Jonathan Rea put Honda on top of the Phillip Island World Superbike timesheets by taking provisional pole in Friday's qualifying session for the Australian season opener.

The Briton put in the only sub-1min 32sec lap of the afternoon after fitting a new tyre in the closing minutes, allowing him to just edge out the trio a Ducati riders, who had dominated the session until then.

"Going fastest was a pleasant surprise and also kind of our plan," said Rea, fifth quickest in morning practice. "We went out and got on a decent pace right away, sort of 1m 32 lap times, but with old tyres. Then we developed a problem with the bike and we lost a bit of time during the session.

"When we did go out again I went out with what I think the race tyre is going to be fitted to the rear, but it did not have the pace of the tyre I used at the end. I did about ten laps on that tyre, all very consistent but it was not going to be the fastest lap of the day.

"I came in to the pits near the end and got a new tyre then went out and we got a bit of a feel good factor; just to see that we were not that far away from the pace really," he explained.

Second place went to Jakub Smrz (+0.157s) on the Liberty Racing machine, followed by Davide Giugliano (+0.239s) in third and his Althea Ducati team-mate Carlos Checa (+0.269s).

Like Rea, reigning champion Checa dipped under the 1min 32sec in morning practice, but lapped slower in the afternoon session, when he suffered a fall.

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