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Ducati has stamped its mark on proceedings during first qualifying at the Moscow Raceway as Davide Giugliano led a 1098R 1-2-3 with an impressively fast lap time.
With the Italian manufacturer hinting at its potential around the Russian circuit earlier this week when Carlos Checa emerged fastest in testing, Giugliano, Checa and PATA Racing's Sylvain Guintoli confirmed the Ducati's pace by locking out the top three in Q1.
An impressive performance from WSBK rookie Giugliano, his lap time of 1min 35.074secs would put him more than seven tenths clear of the opposition with just five minutes of the session remaining before Checa reduced it to a less sizeable two tenths late on.
Even so, the Spaniard would compound Althea's strong start to the weekend by putting half a second between himself and Silverstone race winner Guintoli, the reigning champions emerging as the early favourites this weekend.
Things were somewhat tighter behind Guintoli as just a single second would cover his third place to Leon Camier down in 18th position, FP1 pace setter Marco Melandri following closely in fourth.
Having led the Aprilia charge in practice, Chaz Davies continued to show his factory counterparts the way with a run to fifth fastest, the Welshman well ahead of Max Biaggi and Eugene Laverty down in 13th and 17th positions respectively.
After beginning his day outside the top ten, Tom Sykes rose to sixth place in Q1 aboard the leading Kawasaki, ahead of Lorenzo Zanetti and Hiroshi Aoyama, who did their hopes of making a rare Superpole appearance no harm at all in seventh and eighth positions.
Leon Haslam and Jonathan Rea rounded out the top ten, ahead of Niccolo Canepa, who ensured all five Ducatis were classified in the upper half of the field.
Having missed FP1 after an early crash – one that also wiped out a hapless Camier -, Loris Baz bounced back to 12th best, ahead of Biaggi, who lost time early on with mechanical issues on the Aprilia RSV4.
Despite a depleted field as a result of Effenbert Liberty Racing's absence, the fight for the top 16 Superpole positions will be fiercely contested, particularly with Laverty and Camier currently out of contention in 17th and 18th respectively. They are joined in the danger zone by the trio of Pedercini Kawasaki riders David Salom, Alexander Lundh and David McFadden.