Having broken his victory duck back at Monza, Michel Fabrizio can now celebrate a first World Superbike Championship pole position, once again in Italy, after getting the better of Ben Spies in qualifying at Imola.
Setting the pace in practice and provisional qualifying, Fabrizio started Superpole as the tentative favourite, but it took a last gasp effort after the chequered flag had been dropped for him to take the top spot.
Producing a best lap of 1min 47.735secs to edge out Spies by four hundredths of a second, the tight margin goes some way to making amends for when the American beat Fabrizio by one thousandths of a second at Kyalami.
“I am extremely happy to take my first Superpole, and happier still to do it here at Imola on the Ducati. I really wanted it and, after Ben took it from me by a thousandth of a second back at Kyalami, this time I just took it from him. I was quite surprised because I thought they'd cut my time but then I saw the screen and saw my name in first place!”
Although mathematically still capable to winning this year's title, Fabrizio admitted earlier in the week – following the confirmation he has re-signed with Ducati Xerox for 2010 – that he may now turn his attentions to helping team-mate Noriyuki Haga win the series.
With that in mind, Fabrizio is expecting close racing between those at the front of the field, particularly title contender Spies and the increasingly competitive Jonathan Rea.
“Tomorrow will nevertheless be very tough because Ben and Johnny obviously have a good race pace and so I'm expecting some close racing between the guys on the front row.”
Poignantly, Fabrizio was given his Superpole trophy by his former team-mate Troy Bayliss – the man who beat him to a number of pole positions in 2008.