Marco Melandri proved he needs only a day to successfully learn his way around a new circuit as he swept to the fastest time in second qualifying at Magny-Cours.

The Italian, who was one of the riders perilously close to the danger zone after Q1, was one of the first to make early gains, but it was his final effort of 1min 38.171secs that earned him the initiative heading into Superpole.

With an ever-evolving circuit ensuring the best lap times came in the closing stages, Q1 pace setter Carlos Checa held down the top spot for 25 minutes, only for him to slip back to tenth when he couldn't improve his provisional marker.

Ahead of him, Sylvain Guintoli and Jakub Smrz flew the flag for Ducati in second and third aboard their Effenbert machines, while Ayrton Badovini hauled himself out of the drop zone in style by leaping up to fourth.

Leon Haslam and Troy Corser tailed their BMW counterpart in fifth and sixth, ahead of Noriyuki Haga, Jonathan Rea, Tom Sykes and Checa.

Eugene Laverty joined Checa in failing to improve his lap time as he settled for 11th, while Maxime Berger, Michel Fabrizio, Leon Camier, Joan Lascorz and Mark Aitchison making up the remainder of the Superpole participants.

Meanwhile, with Ruben Xaus now confirmed as out of action this weekend after hurting his neck in an accident during FP1, just 18 riders will line up this weekend, with Javier Fores and Roberto Rolfo firmed in 17th and 18th on the grid.