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Jonathan Rea claimed only the fourth pole position of his World Superbike career during qualifying at Imola.

The Pata Honda rider is usually more of a Sunday man, having won 12 of his 122 races - the most recent win last time at Assen - but cranked it up during Saturday's 15-minute pole shootout to beat the 'home' Italian machines of Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) and Davide Giugliano (Ducati).

Giugliano was holding provisional pole when riders pitted for a mid-session tyre change, with Guintoli striking first during the all important final runs.

Loris Baz, Marco Melandri and Giugliano respectively slotted into second behind the Frenchman, before Rea blasted to the head of the field by 0.265s for his first pole since 2011!

While Rea raised eyebrows for all the right reasons, world champion, current title leader and Superpole specialist Tom Sykes could only manage sixth on the grid for Kawasaki (+0.478s). The Englishman will be joined on row two by Ducati's Chaz Davies (+0.389s) and Aprilia's Melandri (+0.451s).

Row three will consist of Sykes' team-mate Baz, Voltcom Crescent Suzuki's Eugene Laverty and top Evo qualifier Niccolo Canepa (Ducati).

Laverty's rookie team-mate Alex Lowes, seventh after FP3, was denied a chance to participate in Superpole 2 due to a 'possible gearbox issue'. Team manager Paul Denning tweeted that with only one bike there was not time to fix the problem and that "safety has to be priority."

Rea's team-mate Leon Haslam qualified tenth after a big fall in practice, with BMW Motorrad Italia SBK stand-in Leon Camier eleventh (+2.082s).

Canepa and Camier reached Superpole 2 after finishing first and second respectively in Superpole 1.


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