Rea heads grid for Race 1 at Magny-Cours, with Mercado and Sykes also on front row after incident-packed SP2
In tricky wet conditions at the Pirelli French Round Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) took pole in a dramatic Tissot Superpole 2 session despite a crash early in the 15-minute shootout. The World Champion - who could wrap up an unprecedented third successive title today – qualified an impressive 1.203s ahead of the second quickest rider in SP2, Leandro Mercado (IODARacing), with the front being completed by the tough Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) on his comeback from injury.
Rea went down in the French rain as the qualifying session commenced but recovered well to grab pole position for his title assault in Race 1.
Behind the front row qualifiers Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team), Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Davide Guigliano (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) will all feature on the second row.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) all line up on row 3, with Davies suffering a light crash in the session and Laverty going down twice in the difficult conditions at the 4.411km Magny-Cours circuit.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) will get away from row 4, after crashes for Italian pair Savadori and Melandri in SP2.
There were also crashes for Anthony West (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) and Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) in the earlier SP1 session which saw Mercado and Giugliano graduate to SP2. None of the riders sustained any serious injury despite the number of crashes on the slippery wet surface.
The WorldSBK riders will undertake their first race of the weekend at the Pirelli French Round at 1pm local time on Saturday, with Rea getting his first shot at clinching a historic third successive WorldSBK title.