Josh Brookes followed up his Friday promise by taking pole position for the first of this weekend's title deciding races at Brands Hatch. The Australian was quickest on the Indy circuit yesterday and looked equally impressive on the Grand Prix circuit in qualifying.
In truth, it was highly surprising to see pole position taken by anybody other than Michael Laverty after the Swan Yamaha rider dominated the two knockout sessions, and when it came to Q3, the Northern Irishman set the initial pace on a 1:25.462.
John Hopkins followed him over the line with his fastest lap of the weekend, a 1:25.288, but Laverty immediately responded by clocking a 1:25.183 on his next attempt. Just two minutes remained when Brookes leaped into contention, setting a 1:25.111 which was eight tenths faster than anything he'd managed in the two knockout sessions, but Laverty was still setting personal best sectors behind him.
As the chequered flag flew, Laverty did indeed go quicker but missed out on pole by 0.031s, handing the top spot to Brookes ahead of this afternoon's opening race. Hopkins will be content with third but has chief rival Tommy Hill alongside after the Lingfield rider qualified fourth.
There were a number of stand-out performers elsewhere in Q3 with James Ellison finishing as the top Honda in fifth for Team SorryMate.com ahead of Michael Rutter, who held provisional pole at one stage before dropping to sixth.
Crescent Suzuki's Jon Kirkham will hope to assist his teammate from seventh while Graeme Gowland will complete the second row on the leading EVO bike. The Northumberland rider stunned many observers in the paddock with his performance in Q2, setting the second quickest time, beaten only by Laverty.
The headlines in Q2 had already been made though as everything went wrong for HM Plant Honda. Shane Byrne saw his already slim hopes of winning the championship fade even further with a crash at Westfield, resulting in elimination from qualifying.
The Londoner looked to be suffering from an injured wrist immediately after the accident but looked much happier moments later and looks set to start this afternoon's first race, albeit from 19th. The HM Plant couldn't look to Ryuichi Kiyonari for some good news either as the outgoing champion missed the cut too, ending up in 14th.
Peter Hickman was another surprise casualty in Q2 after crashing at the same point as Byrne, leaving him down in 20th, while Gary Mason will start one place further back after his surprise elimination in Q1.