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Davide Giugliano has signalled his intentions ahead of Superpole for the third round of the season at Assen as he headed up the first dry session of the weekend in Q2.
A persistent threat to the top throughout the session, Giugliano eventually deposed long-time leader Tom Sykes in the closing stages to put his satellite Althea Aprilia top of the pile.
Edging out his rival by less than a tenth – but more than half a second up on everyone else -, Giugliano headed up both factory Kawasaki riders with Loris Baz tailing his team-mate in an encouraging third position.
Flying the flag for Pata Honda on their home circuit this weekend following Leon Haslam's withdrawal through injury, Jonathan Rea kept spirits high with the fourth fastest time, ahead of championship leader Sylvain Guintoli and Alstare Ducati's Carlos Checa.
Though a late improvement would see him jump to seventh, ahead of his BMW team-mate, it was a fairly disappointing session for Melandri as he spent much of Q2 circulating outside the top ten.
By contrast, Eugene Laverty was chasing the top times early on before slipping back to ninth position, ahead of Jules Cluzel on the only Suzuki to make it onto track, his injured team-mate Leon Camier not venturing out.
In the fight to reach Superpole, Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini went safe, with Ivan Clementi, Max Neukirchner and Vittorio Iannuzzo also doing enough to make it through to the next stage, the latter doing so for the first time in his career.
Those missing out included both Pedercini Kawasakis, with Federico Sandi and Alexander Lundh, the latter crashing early on and being taken to the medical centre. They are set to start 16th and 18th, with Mark Aitchison on the Effenbert Liberty Ducati between them in 17th.