Rea bolts to pole position at Phillip Island
Jonathan Rea has smashed the qualifying lap record at Phillip Island to secure pole position for the 2017 World Superbike season opener.
The defending World Superbike champion has looked in superior form since arriving at the Australian track for the pre-event test and despite Chaz Davies leading the timesheet in free practice the Kawasaki Racing Team rider pulled out a blistering lap on the qualifying Pirelli tyres.
Rea's 1m 29.573s was half a second quicker than Tom Sykes's pole position from 2016, but it had initially looked like the Yorkshire rider was nailed on for pole having set a 1m 29.605s moments before his team-mate's flyer. Aruba Racing Ducati's Marco Melandri marked his comeback to World Superbikes by completing the front row one-tenth ahead of team-mate Davies.
Pata Yamaha's Alex Lowes leads the rest of the chasers in fifth just 0.006s in front of Milwaukee Aprilia's Lorenzo Savadori. Jordi Torres grabbed the front of the third row for Althea BMW ahead of Barni Ducati's Xavi Fores who crashed out on his final flying lap.
MV Agusta's Leon Camier claimed ninth ahead of Michael van der Mark, while Red Bull Honda's Nicky Hayden could only manage 11th on the new Fireblade's debut, but did qualifying ahead of Markus Reiterberger in Superpole 2.
In Superpole 1, Eugene Laverty hit a bump on his World Superbike comeback when he crashed out to miss out on progressing to the pole position shootout and will start race one from 13th ahead of World Superbike rookies Randy Krummenacher in 14th and Stefan Bradl in 15th.