The 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship continued at the Imola circuit for the Pirelli Italian Round. A dramatic session which saw two red-flags within the opening five minutes meant banking a time became all important. The first red-flag came at Turn 7, the exit of the Villeneuve chicane, when Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) crashed after his engine blew up. A second red-flag was for Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) at Turn 4.
After the first laps were complete, it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) who topped the time sheets, with an initial lap time that was faster than his pole position time in 2018. However, in the final five minutes, a new outright lap record by the Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) slotted him nicely in pole position for his first pole of the 2019 season, which in-turn, was a new lap record at Imola! With Davies heading Rea, championship leader Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), who looked rather untidy out on circuit, was third!
Heading up the second row, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who set his fast lap in the wake of his teammate. A fourth place on his return, he will be hoping to take the challenge to the flying trio ahead of him. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) placed in fifth position, at a circuit where Yamaha have struggled at over the years. Will Lowes be able to keep up his top five run in the race? Completing row two is another British rider, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). The Huddersfield-ace continued his streak of qualifying in the top six all season.
Row three features Sykes’ teammate, Markus Reiterberger. The German rider achieved his best Imola qualifying as he looks to challenge his teammate in the race. Dutchman Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) put a lap in at the end of the session but only good enough for eighth. Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) is top Independent rider in ninth position, ahead of Sandro Cortese, who recovered after crashing.
Wildcard Lorenzo Zanetti (Motocorsa Racing) ended the session in 13th whilst Tommy Bridewell (Team Goeleven) replaced Eugene Laverty in fine style, with an impressive 16th, ahead of WorldSBK regulars, Rinaldi and Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team).