Magny-Cours WSBK: Rea masters the wet to grab pole
Reigning World Superbike champion Jonathan Rea took his first pole position of the 2016 season after dominating a wet qualifying session at Magny-Cours.
Rea led Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes by a comfortable margin of 0.712s at the end of Superpole 2, which took place on a wet-but-drying track that saw times drop considerably throughout.
From the very outset, it was Rea who looked most comfortable in the tricky conditions, the Northern Irishman's first flying lap - a 1m55.640s - putting him a full 2.7s clear of his nearest opposition.
Rea kept the improvements coming, working his way down to a 1m53.617s before bringing in his bike to the pits prior to this final run.
Sykes briefly got the better of Rea as he posted a 1m53.593s with two minutes remaining, but Rea demolished his teammate's effort with a 1m52.831s to take his first pole since last year's Thailand round.
Chaz Davies was the nearest rival to the two Kawasaki riders, ending up 1.2s off the pace on the best of the Ducatis, followed by the Yamaha of home hero Sylvain Guintoli.
Fifth was Leon Camier (MV Agusta) despite the Briton suffering a late crash at Turn 1 - which scuppered Davies' final lap and prevented him from beating Sykes to second.
Next up were the Hondas of Michael van der Mark and Nicky Hayden, the latter forced to fight his way through Superpole 1 after ending up a lowly 13th in second practice on Friday.
The American, who deputised for MotoGP rider Jack Miller last weekend at Aragon, didn't top the opening session however, as he ended up a tenth slower than 36-year-old Frenchman Mathieu Lagrive on the Pedercini Kawasaki.
Making his first World Superbike entry since 2009, Lagrive - riding in place of the absent Anthony West - dominated the opening phase of qualifying, and went on to secure ninth place on the grid in SP2, one place behind Lorenzo Savadori (Ioda Aprilia).
Completing the top 10 was Xavi Fores (Barni Ducati), with Alex Lowes (Yamaha) and Jordi Torres (Althea BMW) rounding out the SP2 contenders.
Superpole 2 results:
|5||2||Leon Camier||MV Agusta||1'55.303||2.422|
|6||60||Michael van der Mark||Honda||1'55.334||2.453|
Chaz Davies sets the best time on Friday at Magny-Cours
Magny-Cours WSBK: Tyre gamble delivers Davies victory