Tommy Hill will start the first race of the 2011 BSB Championship Showdown from pole position after smashing the lap record at Donington Park. The Swan Yamaha man starts the seven-race title decider with a seven point lead over Shane 'Shakey' Byrne and looks set to increase it later today.
Hill clocked a 1:28.869 to beat teammate Michael Laverty by four tenths of a second and expects the Northern Irishman to push him hard in Sunday's races.
“Taking pole is good but it was hard work as Michael was pressurising me all of the time but now I have to concentrate on making a good get away with the bunch, getting a race rhythm and trying for the race wins.”
“There is a lot of pressure on the teams and riders now we are in the Showdown phase of the championship – it is a case of being consistent and being on the podium in the remaining seven races. It is important to stay focussed to come out on top but I am taking things race by race and trying not to look at the championship standings.”
Alongside the two YZF-R1s will start John Hopkins who proved that he is back to full fitness with the third fastest time in qualifying. Samsung Crescent Suzuki's team leader trails Hill by 11 points and doesn't expect his previously dislocated finger to trouble him today.
“The fingers are pretty sore but once the adrenalin kicks in it is not too bad. I need to close the points deficit but it is not just about consistency now it is also about racking up race wins.”
The front row is completed by a Honda but won't have a title challenger on board. Peter Hickman put in a sensational performance to take fourth and deny the HM Plant Hondas of a place on the front row.
Shane Byrne will have to start from fifth ahead of Jon Kirkham while Ryuichi Kiyonari will have his work cut out from seventh. It could have been worse for the reigning champion as he struggled to make it out of Q1, eventually sneaking through in the closing minutes.
The final showdown competitor, Josh Brookes, completes the second row ahead of the top EVO qualifier Graeme Gowland and Team Sorrymate.com's James Ellison.