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WORLD SUPERBIKES

Bautista blitzes Buriram lap record in stunning pole position

World Superbike qualifying is the new twenty five minute single session on a hot day in Thailand. After topping all the qualifying sessions, it just remains to be seen if Alvaro Bautista has got the hang of the qualifying tyre yet, or if Jonathan Rea will set another pole position at this track he has dominated since they started racing here.

After the first flying lap, Alex Lowes set the benchmark of 1'33.048 and improved on it a lap later as Jonathan Rea finally made his way from his garage to join the fray. Alvaro Bautista was second quickest and on his third lap took the top spot with a 1'32.718 on the race tyre. As riders pitted in for a tyre change, ten unites in, Bautista set a 1'32.631 on his fourth lap to increase his lead. On his first flying lap, Jonathan Rea quickly got himself up to third place behind Alex Lowes.

Bautista is showing himself to be the quickest in the first half of the lap, with the long straights separated by a hairpin, with Rea and Lowes being quicker in the second half, the section with corner after corner heading to the start/finish straight. As the track cleared, with the top ten riders all pitting in, Marco Melandri headed for the qualifying tyre having deposed Rea from third place.

Leon Haslam was the first rider out on the qualifying tyre, dragging Tati Mercado with him, getting into second place as Mercado crawled up into ninth place. Alvaro Bautista was making the most of his quicker tyre as Jonathan Rea made his way from the pits, and Bautista set a 1'31.912 on his Ducati V4, three quarters of a second quicker than everyone else as the clocked ticked over to the last two minutes.

Jonathan Rea put himself into second place, and as the flag came out, nobody was on the pace to challenge the top two with Alex Lowes and Sandro Cortese in third and fourth places unable to improve their pace. Leon Haslam was fifth quickest ahead of Tom Sykes.

With the long straights working in favour of the Ducati, his top speed over ten kilometres faster than Rea's Kawasaki, and the twisty bits suiting the Yamahas and Kawasakis, the race should be a tale of two halves.

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