Shane 'Shakey' Byrne coped best with the tricky conditions to take pole position for tomorrow's opening British Superbike race at Croft.
The championship leader had a difficult time on Friday before setting the pace in Saturday's final free practice session, and carried that form into qualifying.
Byrne had an advantage of just over a tenth of a second over Michael Laverty and admitted the changeable weather had turned the session into a lottery.
“Pole is good, though a bit more by luck than judgement as the rain came when I was at the fastest part of the circuit,” said Byrne. “I had Michael Rutter in front of me and used him as a marker – I thought if he stays smooth, then fine, otherwise I would back off. He rode well so I kept on it.”
“In the end it worked out fine, and the team has worked hard to sort a setting for the bike that suits this track which is mix of tight and fast flowing corners as well as bumpy. We want to get out there for wins as this is the home circuit of our sponsors HM Plant.”
For Laverty, second place equaled his qualifying position at Croft where he inherited the pole slot from teammate Tommy Hill. The Swan Yamaha rider believed a moment of hesitancy was the difference between him and Byrne.
“I had topped the first two qualifying sessions and as I went out for my lap on the back part of the circuit there was a sprinkle of rain and I backed off and wasn't committed enough to push for the pole time, so fair play to Shakey.”
French teenager Loris Baz qualified the Motorpoint Yamaha on the front row of the grid for the second event in a row while Michael Rutter will start fourth on the Rapid Solicitors–Bathams Ducati.
Yorkshireman James Westmoreland completed an excellent day for the Motorpoint team by qualifying fifth on his home circuit, just ahead of Stuart Easton. The MSS Colchester Kawasaki rider was second fastest in Q1 but couldn't match his time in the next two session and will have to contend himself with a second row grid slot, with Dan Linfoot and the returning Tommy Hill starting alongside in seventh and eighth.
Of the other title front runners, John Hopkins was the slowest rider to set a time in Q3 and will head up the third row but Ryuichi Kiyonari didn't even make it that far. The Japanese rider has work to do in race one from 14th on the grid.
Qualifying Result (Q3):
- Shane BYRNE (HM Plant Honda) 1:20.069
- Michael LAVERTY (Swan Yamaha) +0.125
- Loris BAZ (Motorpoint Yamaha) +0.195
- Michael RUTTER (Rapid Solicitors-Bathams Ducati) +0.749
- James WESTMORELAND (Motorpoint Yamaha) +0.871
- Stuart EASTON (MSS Colchester Kawasaki) +0.911
- Dan LINFOOT (Sorrymate.com Honda) +1.001
- Tommy HILL (Swan Yamaha) +1.519
- John HOPKINS (Samsung Crescent Racing) +1.685
- Peter HICKMAN (Tyco Honda) No Time