Michel Fabrizio heads into Superpole with a psychological advantage after clinging onto his place at the top of the timesheets following the weekend's sole provisional qualifying session.

Having led the way in free practice, a lap of 1min 49.026secs in the final five minutes of provisional qualifying saw Fabrizio emerge ahead of Jonathan Rea and Ben Spies by less than a tenth of a second.

Spies had held the top spot during the closing stages, having wrestled the lead from long-time pace setter Shane Byrne with just over ten minutes remaining, but could do nothing to respond when both Fabrizio and Rea eked ahead of him by seven and three hundredths respectively.

Byrne remained less than two tenths back from the leaders to mark himself out as a Superpole contender, the Briton edging out Noriyuki Haga, who made linear progress throughout the session having languished well outside the top ten early on.

Just behind, Marco Simoncelli was courting plenty of attention by the end of the session after claiming a provisional spot in the shootout with the sixth fastest time, just half a second off the leaders and half a second ahead of his more experienced Aprilia team-mate Max Biaggi. His next challenge, however, will be adapting to the unknown Superpole format later in the day.

Further back, the session proved close for the tight mid-field pack, with seventh down to 20th being covered by just a single second.

Suzuki's Yukio Kagayama fronted that group, ahead of countryman Ryuichi Kiyonari - who made the biggest gains of any rider between the sessions -, Carlos Checa and Jakub Smrz, the latter suffering a fall in the final minutes.

Leon Haslam was a quiet 11th quickest, ahead of Tom Sykes in 16th, while Karl Muggeridge ensured both Suzuki's would move through into Superpole by going 18th best.

However, Kawasaki will be one rider short when Superpole gets underway after Makoto Tamada was dumped out of contention in 21st position. The Japanese rider was edged out by BMW's returning rider Ruben Xaus late on after a session-long exchange.

Behind them, Matteo Baiocco, Luca Scassa, wild-card rider Luca Conforti, David Checa, David Salom and Vittorio Iannuzzo do not progress either.


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