Michel Fabrizo picked up where he left off from Imola by claiming a provisional pole position during opening qualification at Magny-Cours.

Less than a week after claiming his second career World Superbike victory on home soil, Fabrizio once again found himself at the top of the timesheets after edging out Jonathan Rea with six minutes remaining.

On a weekend where he could play a pivotal role in aiding Xerox Ducati team-mate Noriyuki Haga's title offensive, Fabrizio, Rea, Haga and Ben Spies found themselves separated by less than two tenths of a second.

Rea had held the top spot for almost half of the session, lowering his fastest time further to 1min 38.879secs, before Fabrizio went even better. Although the Ten Kate Honda rider dropped it further by a few hundredths, it was only enough to deny a Ducati 1-2.

Haga and Spies, meanwhile, continue to find themselves just a tenth apart, albeit still in favour of the championship leader.

Carlos Checa, who holds the race lap record around Magny-Cours rounded out the top five, ahead of BMW and Suzuki's top representatives Troy Corser and Yukio Kagayama, the latter continuing to adapt to the use of Ohlins suspension following its introduction at Imola.

Ducati riders Jakub Smrz and Fonsi Nieto flew the flag for the privateer ranks in eighth and ninth, just ahead of Max Biaggi, who suffered a fall early on before recovering to set the tenth best time.

Having been second fastest in free practice, Leon Haslam slipped to the 11th best time, marginally ahead of the second Suzuki Alstare of Karl Muggeridge and the leading Kawasaki of Broc Parkes, whose late effort denied a surprisingly strong turn by Pedercini counterpart David Salom, the Spaniard running inside the top ten for much of the session before dropping back to 14th.

Although still 17th quickest, Leon Camier remains on course for a Superpole position having made further gains on the Aprilia RSV-4. The Briton briefly featured inside the top ten, but would eventually come away just three tenths slower than team-mate Biaggi.

Fellow Brits Tom Sykes and Shane Byrne qualify a provisional 15th and 18th respectively.