Alex Lowes took a stunning maiden BSB pole position at Thruxton, providing MSS Colchester Kawasaki with a much needed lift after a turbulent two weeks.
The team was rocked by the injury to Stuart Easton who suffered multiple injuries at the North West 200, but Lowes proved a more than able substitute, edging out John Hopkins by a fraction of a second.
The 20-year-old, who had spent the early rounds dominating the EVO class, dedicated his achievement to Easton who continues to recover in hospital.
“In each of the sessions, I was able to go faster and that really is a testament to the work that had been put in on the bike by Stuart. This is for him – we all want to get him back out there on track as soon as possible,” said Lowes.
“This will give him a lift, as he has done all of the development work on the bike to make this possible and it will do the whole team good. It has not been easy since his crash for the team, seeing one of your own badly injured, as they are like a big family. It is just an awesome feeling, mega. Now I have to a good job for all of them in these races.”
In a closely contested session, Lowes (1:14.891) pipped Hopkins by 0.016s with Tommy Hill just 0.006s further back in third. Michael Rutter was little over a tenth of a second back in fourth as he qualified the Rapid Solicitors–Bathams Ducati on the front row for the second consecutive event.
The chase for pole was expected to be led by Shane 'Shakey' Byrne, but the championship leader made a critical error right at the start of Q1, sliding off on his first flying lap. As a result, the HM Plant Honda will have to start tomorrow's first race from the back of the grid.
With Byrne's demise, Peter Hickman was the highest placed Honda in fifth for the Tyco squad, just ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari. Michael Laverty qualified the second of the Swan Yamahas in seventh while James Westmoreland will complete the second row on the Motorpoint-run YZF-R1.
That place had initially gone to his teammate Loris Baz, but the young Frenchman was penalised for making an illegal practice start during a live session and has been demoted to twelfth.
With Alex Lowes no longer competing in the mirror.co.uk EVO class, Glen Richards grasped the opportunity to set the fastest time, edging out his WFR Honda teammate Graeme Gowland by 0.029s.
Qualifying Result – Thruxton
1. Alex LOWES (1:14.891)
2. John HOPKINS (1:14.907)
3. Tommy HILL (1:14.913)
4. Michael RUTTER (1:15.017)
5. Peter HICKMAN (1:15.045)
6. Ryuichi KIYONARI (1:15.090)
7. Michael LAVERTY (1:15.126)
8. James WESTMORELAND (1:15.332)
9. Dan LINFOOT (1:16.097)
10. Chris WALKER (1:15.353)
11. Martin JESSOPP (1:15.547)
12. Loris BAZ (Penalty)
13. Jon KIRKHAM (1:15.616)
14. Josh BROOKES (1:15.707)
15. Ian LOWRY (1:15.765)
16. Glen RICHARDS (E) (1:15.959)
17. Graeme GOWLAND (E) (1:15.988)
18. Tommy BRIDEWELL (1:16.267)
19. Gary MASON (1:16.565)
20. Steve BROGAN (1:16.641)
21. Simon ANDREWS (E) (1:16.456)
22. Scott SMART (E) (1:16.457)
23. John LAVERTY (1:16.458)
24. Barry BURRELL (E) (1:16.951)
25. Aaron ZANOTTI (E) (1:17.217)
26. Craig FITZPATRICK (E) (1:17.250)
27. Patric MUFF (E) (1:17.398)
28. James HILLIER (E) (1:17.427)
29. Hudson KENNAUGH (1:17.663)
30. Tom TUNSTALL (E) (1:17.745)
31. Dan KNEEN (E) (1:18.706)
32. Joshua DAY (E) (1:19.838)
33. Shane BYRNE (No Time)