It's one thing to look fast in practice and nail all your lines at pace, but it's a completely different animal to tame the track when the clock starts ticking and the pressure of World Champs weekend begins to set in for real. Some thrive in such an environment and raise their game, while others struggle to perform when it counts, knowing the clock never lies no matter how fast you think you may be on track.
Qualifying today in Val di Sole was the first time racers took to the track with intent and could see in black and white exactly how they stacked up. Sure, some may not have pushed one hundred percent, while others may have decided to roll the dice for real. No one on the outside really knows for sure, and there are always head games going on at World Champs as no one wants to give away that special line just yet or play their full hand, but regardless, the result sheet still gives an idea of who the key players will be for Sunday's final.
Vali Höll and Loris Vergier took top honors which given their current form should come as no surprise, but hot on their heels were also the usual suspects we've seen in the mix all year. Times were incredibly tight across the board and as racers fight for seconds in tomorrow's extra practice day, you can be sure everyone's pace come Sunday will be turned up a notch.
The fight for the rainbow stripes is on.