Sam Lowes beat his pole position time from 2012 to continue his stellar momentum on the way to achieving the fastest time in the first World Supersport Qualifying session at Imola.
The championship leader by 30 points remained at the top of the time sheets throughout the session after another measured performance that is bound to psychologically afflict his championship rivals.
After dominating Free Practice by over 0.9secs on Friday morning he continued his majestic run, riding high on a wave of supreme confidence. His fastest time of 1min 51.104 was over three tenths faster than the Supersport lap record and he led by over seven tenths of a second from class rookie Riccardo Russo. Arguably that time could have been improved upon had Florian Marino not held him up on his final circulation.
The battle behind him was more than interesting as a handful of Italians jostled for places on the provisional front row. Russo, winner of the Superstock 600 race here in 2012, was the only other man to lower his time into the 1min 51s.
Pata Honda's Michael van der Mark's machine was sufficiently damaged from a spill in Free Practice but his crew worked busily throughout the morning to put the 20-year old Dutchman out on track. He duly rewarded their efforts with the third fastest time.
He placed just in front of teammate Lorenzo Zanetti, keen to put his Portimão misery behind him, in fourth and fellow countryman Luca Scassa rounded out the top five.
The Mahi Kawasaki pairing of Fabien Foret and Kenan Sofuoglu, Lowes' principal championship contenders, will be concerned after only managing eighth and eleventh places respectively. An even more pressing issue will be the second and a half gap between them and first position.
Jack Kennedy's ability to learn new tracks with seeming ease continued as he finished the day inside the top ten in ninth.
Kev Coghlan wasn't able to maintain the momentum that saw him finish fourth in the Free Qualifying session. The Scotsman ended the session just outside the top ten in twelfth.
British Superbike front-runner Tommy Bridewell comfortably qualified within the required 107%, finishing in 23rd. The 24-year old is replacing Alex Baldolini in the Lorini Honda garage for the weekend.