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Marco Melandri has given a clear indication that he intends to ride around his painful back injury at Magny-Cours this weekend as he jumped to the top of the timesheets in second .

The Italian is returning to action in France after sustaining back and rib injuries in an accident at Portimao, but while the man himself admitted to having discomfort after his first day on the BMW, he showed few ill-effects as he pumped in a time of 1min 38.152secs.

Occurring in the latter stages of the session, which was briefly halted with ten minutes remaining when Alexander Lundh crashed, Melandri was the only rider to surpass Tom Sykes's Q1 effort of 1min 38.200secs.

Despite being unable to better his own lap, Sykes was still third fastest in the Q2 session itself, behind Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa.

Yet again there was little to choose between the chasing pack, with Jonathan Rea and Max Biaggi even setting an identical lap time in fourth and fifth, while Sylvain Guintoli and Leon Haslam in sixth and seventh were just three hundredths further back themselves.

Behind them, Davide Giugliano, Loris Baz and Eugene Laverty completed the top ten positions, the trio just a couple of tenths from the 'provisional' front row.

With such tiny margins to separate the riders, the battle to reach Superpole was an intense one, particularly when Claudio Corti defied his WSBK debutant status to not only make it into the top sixteen on the unfancied Pedercini Kawasaki, but do so in an impressive 12th place with the fastest time of all through sector three.

In the end it was Ayrton Badovini that would lose out in the final seconds, the Italian demoted to 17th when a late improvement from Lorenzo Zanetti saw him creep into Superpole contention.

Badovini will be joined on the afternoon sidelines by Hiroshi Aoyama, John Hopkins - who managed just two laps in Q2 -, Lundh and Norino Brignola.