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WORLD SUPERBIKES

Rea snatches last-gasp pole

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took his fifteenth career Motul FIM Superbike World Championship pole position, a third in four attempts in Thailand, and with a new Superpole lap record at the Chang International Circuit. Teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) had looked set for a second consecutive 2018 pole after becoming the second rider to dip below the previous record in Tissot Superpole 2, but lost out by just three thousandths of a second in the dying moments of the session. Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) made it an all-British front row, securing his first top-three grid position since joining Honda.

Both Rea and Sykes had shown good pace on race tyres early in the session, but Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) set the early benchmark. And the Spaniard will be highly satisfied with a fourth-place grid position after starting just twelfth last time out in Australia.

Leon Camier denied Torres a place on the front row by just half a tenth of a second and was the first rider to break the previous record lap of 1:32.957. He briefly looked set to find more time with a second hot lap, but after two strong sectors he was unable to improve further and was restricted to third.

Three of the top six from Tissot Superpole in the Yamaha Finance Australian Round failed to secure places on the front two rows of the grid in Thailand, in what was again a competitive and unpredictable session. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), runner-up in qualifying at Philip Island, was only three tenths of a second behind pole but finished towards the back of the lead group in eighth, with Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) suffering a subdued session behind him in ninth. Meanwhile his teammate, Round One double winner Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati), will start just seventh, having fallen following three personal best sectors on his hot lap.

2016 pole-sitter Michael Van Der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) was off the pace of the lead group of nine riders and will start from row four, ahead of Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) in tenth. The Italian rested his injured shoulder until the final run of Tissot Superpole 2, having already got in useful running in the Superpole 1 session from which he transferred in top spot.

The top nine runners were separated by less than half a second in the session, a far tighter Tissot Superpole result than in Australia. And with five different manufacturers lining up on the front two rows of the grid, a close opening race is in prospect.

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