Checa holds onto provisional pole

Carlos Checa retains provisional pole position at Phillip Island as Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland move into closer contention
Carlos Checa remains poised to secure the first World Superbike Superpole of 2010 after once again topping the timesheets during an incredibly tight second qualifying session at Phillip Island.

The Spaniard claimed provisional pole position for the Althea Ducati team during Friday's first qualification, Checa's lap of 1min 32.155secs proving good enough to stave off the competition during final qualifying too.

Even so, despite being unable to improve during Q2, Checa still posted the fastest time of the session, his lap of 1min 32.227secs proving marginally faster than Suzuki's Leon Haslam.

Like Checa, Haslam couldn't lower his best lap but held onto a provisional third spot, behind Michel Fabrizio, even if the Briton didn't aid his cause with a fall with just five minutes remaining.

While the top three remains unchanged, the other notable outcome of the session was the sheer closeness of the lap times, with less than 0.8secs covering the top seventeen riders.

With little margin for error, a number of Q1 strugglers took their chance to climb up the order, most notably Cal Crutchlow, who went fourth, and James Toseland, who was sixth despite completing only 13 laps during the 45 minutes.

Sylvain Guintoli was another to make big gains, shadowing Haslam by less than a tenth to go fifth fastest heading into Superpole, while Jonathan Rea made a late move up the order to seventh having spent much of the session outside the top ten.

Chris Vermeulen gave both Kawasaki and his Australian fans something to smile about with an impressive run up the order to eighth, less than four tenths off the ultimate pace, while Leon Camier flew the Aprilia flag in ninth despite taking a tumble mid-session.

Although he was consistently quickest through the opening sector, Jakub Smrz could only put in a full lap good enough for tenth, marginally ahead of Ducati counterpart Lorenzo Lanzi and a crocked Shane Byrne, who slipped down the timesheets from fourth as he feels the effects of his painful tumble during Q1.

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