The HM Plant Honda riders will have to make up some serious ground if they are to challenge for victory in Sunday's first race at Knockhill after both qualified on the third row.

Shane 'Shakey' Byrne will look to protect his championship lead from ninth while Ryuichi Kiyonari will start 12th after the slippery conditions caught out the very best riders.

Byrne was one of them after he crashed in Q3 and was unable to prevent the other riders from beating his time, and the Londoner was annoyed with what he described as a “novice mistake”.

“I am obviously a bit frustrated to have crashed as I had got away with that line in the previous two sessions” he said. It must have just got slightly wetter and it caught me out when I touched the white line; the front unloaded and down I went. It was a bit of a novice mistake as I was feeling good for the front row but I am sure the HM Plant Honda boys will get everything sorted for me tomorrow and we can challenge them at the front even from the third row.”

Kiyonari didn't enjoy the tricky conditions and was eliminated in Q2 but thinks the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade has the pace to run at the front if race day proves to be dry.

“A third row start is not good and the weather has made it difficult today in qualifying as it wasn't wet or dry at some points and was changing. For all wet or all dry on track I would have been ok, but it was hard to push in those conditions without crashing. Tomorrow we should have the pace if the conditions are one or the other and I am not going to give up. I am going to be pushing in the races tomorrow.”

Team manager Havier Beltran accepted that they had been caught out by the changeable conditions but still expects to be challenging the front runners on Sunday.

“Qualifying conditions were far from ideal today and Kiyo just missed out on the top ten with the rain falling harder at the end of the session. Shakey just made a small mistake and caught the white line, but both riders are fine and we know the team are capable of a podium finish tomorrow. At Thruxton Shakey started at the back and was on the podium so he knows he is more than capable tomorrow.”