Ben Spies retained his place at the head of the field during the second qualifying session for the latest World Superbike Championship round at Losail, as only a handful of riders improved on their times.

After setting a stunning pace in provisional qualifying yesterday, even Spies himself couldn't get close to his 1min 58.886secs lap time, although his effort of 1min 59.194secs still made him the quickest rider of the Q2 session

Indeed, with Jonathan Rea unable to improve on his earlier effort in second, only Max Biaggi could get closer to Spies after moving up to a provisional third place, although he remained six tenths off the American's winning effort.

Biaggi was one of a few riders to post improvements between the sessions, although the most notable gain was performed by Tom Sykes, who scythed his way up from a provisional 12th to go fourth best in arguably his most convincing showing yet on the Yamaha R1.

Doing his best time in the early stages, unlike the majority of his rivals, Sykes ran third until the closing minutes when Biaggi eventually overhauled him.

Like Rea, neither Carlos Checa nor Ryuichi Kiyonari - third and fifth quickest yesterday - could improve their times as they slipped to fifth and ninth respectively, the Ducati contingent of Jakub Smrz, Michel Fabrizio and Shane Byrne filling the gaps in sixth, seventh and eighth.

Seemingly over the top speed woes that harmed his efforts in provisional qualifying, Troy Corser qualified comfortably for Superpole in tenth, as did Broc Parkes who will give Kawasaki a confidence boost after slicing seven tenths off his best time and going 11th quickest.

Having been at risk of dropping out of Superpole contention for much of the session, a late effort from Leon Haslam got him comfortably into position in 12th, ahead of Regis Laconi and Japanese trio Shinya Nakano, Noriyuki Haga and Yukio Kagayama.

Struggling again to get the Suzuki up to speed, Max Neukirchner will be frustrated to have slipped even further out of contention in 17th, although he will get another chance in Superpole, as will Roberto Rolfo, Tommy Hill and Ruben Xaus.

Those who missed out mirror those from Phillip Island, with Karl Muggeridge being edged by Xaus by less than three tenths of a second. He will joined towards the back of the grid by Makoto Tamada, David Salom, Brendan Roberts, Vittorio Iannuzzo, Ayrton Badovini, Luca Scassa and Matteo Baiocco.



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