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Reigning World Superbike Champion Carlos Checa will start from pole position for the first time this season after dominating the opposition during qualifying at the brand-new Moscow Raceway.

The Spaniard has been in excellent form since arriving in Russia for the first time, but having faced stiff competition from his Althea Ducati team-mate Davide Giugliano in the run up to Superpole, the fight for pole position remained fairly open.

However, it was Checa that would prevail as he pumped in a superb lap of 1min 34.193secs, which would prove more than four tenths faster than any other rider.

As it happens, Giugliano's hopes of a maiden WSBK pole position faltered when he crashed during SP3, his failure to record a time leaving him eighth on the grid for the first two WSBK races to be held in Russia.

Instead, Tom Sykes will line up alongside Checa at the head of the grid, the Kawasaki rider once again proving competitive over a single lap to notch up his tenth front row start of the season.

Having begun his day down in 17th position after provisional qualifying, Eugene Laverty made big gains over the course of Q1 and FP2 to qualify in a fine third place, the Irishman just missing out on Sykes's second position by a mere 0.013secs.

Joining Laverty in out-pacing his title challenging team-mate, Leon Haslam completes the front row in fourth position, while Marco Melandri heads up row two on the second of the factory-assisted BMWs.

Another rider to improve over the course of the day, Jonathan Rea lined up sixth on the Honda, just ahead of championship leader Max Biaggi, the Italian down in seventh despite being less than a tenth from the front row.

Behind Giugliano, Silverstone race winner Loris Baz will get underway from ninth place on the second of the Kawasakis, ahead of Niccolo Canepa, John Hopkins and Hiroshi Aoyama, the Japanese rider marking his first Superpole appearance of the season by qualifying 12th.

Having looked strong in the run up to Superpole, Chaz Davies's decision not go back out on track late on saw him squeezed out of SP1 in 13th, while anticipated front row challenger Sylvain Guintoli will start 15th - behind PATA Ducati team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti - after making a mistake on his last flying lap.



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