World Superbike Championship leader Carlos Checa took up his familiar place at the top of the timesheets as he paced first qualifying at Silverstone, ahead of Ducati counterpart Maxime Berger.

Having seen wild-card John Hopkins usurp the competition in free practice, eight-time race winner Checa stormed to the front in the final minutes to end the day with a sizeable four tenth advantage over his nearest rival.

However, it was the identity of his that rival certainly caused a few surprises after Berger hauled his year-old Supersonic Ducati 1098R up into second position. That lap was no fluke for Berger either, the Frenchman running well in and around the top ten throughout the hour-long session before briefly topping the timesheets in the final minutes.

Related Articles

Behind him, Tom Sykes emerged as the highest-placed local rider in third position for Kawasaki, just ahead of Leon Camier, who once again comfortably out-paced title challenging team-mate Max Biaggi in fourth.

Following his headline-grabbing antics in FP1, Hopkins had to settle for fifth this time around, though the American did show his hand by being fastest with only five minutes remaining and is likely to remain a threat come Superpole.

Suzuki's regular WSBK competitor, Michel Fabrizio, completed his day in sixth, ahead of Jakub Smrz, Eugene Laverty, Biaggi and Leon Haslam.

Once more, things were close throughout the field, with just a single second covering Berger in second down to Troy Corser in 18th.

It means those outside the top ten are under threat heading into Q2, most notably Marco Melandri, who was only 14th fastest on the Yamaha, less than a tenth quicker than Noriyuki Haga in 17th, the Japanese rider heading up those in the drop zone.

Elsewhere, James Toseland could only manage 12th best in Q1 this time, while Alex Lowes holds down a provisional Superpole spot in 15th.

Those facing the Superpole cut heading into Q2 are Haga, Corser, Joan Lascorz, Roberto Rolfo, Fabrizio Lai and Jon Kirkham.