One of three riders who have a shot at the 2012 Championship title, Melandri shrugged off injuries suffered at the most recent round in Portugal to move the Motorrad Motorsport backed S1000RR to the top of the time sheets with a best lap of 1:38.152.
A late session red flag was caused by a serious accident involving the Team Pedercini Kawasaki of Alexander Lundl of Sweden. The session was stopped so that Lundl could be transported to the track’s Medical Centre, then resumed for a frantic final ten minutes.
Never quickest during the first, longer portion of the Q session, Melandri set a series of best times after the red flag. Melandri now leads the 21 rider strong SBK field into this afternoon’s brief trio of Tissot-SuperPole sessions. The quickest lap in the final session will earn pole for both of Sunday’s 23 lap Superbike counters.
Yesterday’s fastest rider, Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja mounted Tom Sykes, is second going into Tissot-SuperPole, a series-within-a-series than the British rider has dominated in 2012. So far, Sykes has taken pole eight times. Sykes turned a lap at 1:38.628, not as fast as the lap of 1:38.2 he set in yesterday afternoon’s opening Q session.
Reigning World Champ Carlos Checa put his Althea Ducati 1098R into third with a time of 1:38.565, less than a tenth of a second quicker than he went yesterday. Fourth best belonged to early pace setter Jonathan Rea on the works Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR at 1:38.669. Rea's consistent lapping suggests he will be a major factor over a longer distance on race tires.
Series Championship standings leader Max Biaggi netted fifth best time on the Aprilia RSV4 Factory, turning a tour at 1:38.669. “Roman Emperor” Biaggi holds a seemingly secure series points lead from Sykes and long-shot Melandri.
Sylvain Guintoli put the Pata-snacks backed Ducati into sixth, followed by the second factory BMW of Leon Haslam. Both riders are switching teams in 2013, so Magny-Cours marks their final outing for their current employers.
The second Althea Ducati of Davide Giugliano netted eight best lap time, followed by ninth Loris Baz, the local hero improving on the second works Kawasaki. Tenth quickest was the winner of the most recent race in Portugal, Eugene Laverty, aboard the second factory Aprilia.
This afternoon, the top 16 riders will mount the softest rear Pirelli slick “Q” tires to participate in Tissot-SuperPole, aiming to erase the current outright circuit lap record of 1:37.49 set by Rea last year in SuperPole action.