Josh Brookes held off Alex Lowes to take pole position for the opening race of the weekend at Donington Park. Lowes was the only man all afternoon to lap under 1m30, doing so in Q2, but Brookes got the better of him in the decisive third session to secure pole.

Although it appeared Brookes had kept his cool under pressure, the Australian admitted he hadn’t delivered a perfect lap by any means and was relieved to come through despite a number of errors.

“This is perfect timing coming into the Showdown. I do enjoy the bigger, faster, flowing circuits and maybe that’s why we have been fast here right from the opening practice session. I’m obviously really happy to be on pole position, but if I’m honest the pole lap was riddled with mistakes and I was a bit down on myself. I’d just like to thank the team for sorting a great handling package this weekend on my Tyco Suzuki. It’s probably the best start we’ve had to a weekend all year, so hopefully today sets the standard for tomorrow’s races.”

Although he missed out on a second successive pole, Lowes put himself in prime position to secure the final showdown spot with nearest rivals Ian Lowry and Noriyuki Haga fourteenth and twelfth respectively.

“I’m really getting to grips with being up front and now”, he said. “I am riding with confidence to go out and do a good job, everything is starting to click for me but now I have to do it in these races. I need to go out and do the business tomorrow in the races.”

Tommy Hill’s relentless pursuit of podium credits will continue from third on the grid with Jon Kirkham completing the front row and Hill was satisfied with the result after a tough start of the weekend which included a crash on Friday.

“It feels good to be on the front row and by the end of yesterday we had closed the gap. We seemed to have struggled on a few areas today after Cadwell Park, but now we have made some improvements and we have moved forward. It is getting down to the crunch time now ready for the Showdown and for me with Shakey out I need to try and get those podium credits tomorrow. I need to be aiming for the podium and then we can have the best possible advantage going into the Showdown. I need to give it 110% to get the Swan Yamaha back on the top step and get those podium credits. We just need to make a step forward again.”

Mathematically, six riders could snatch the two remaining showdown spots from Tommy Bridewell and Alex Lowes and James Westmoreland looks the man with the best shot after qualifying fifth, one place ahead of Bridewell’s Supersonic BMW. Michael Rutter, Luca Scassa and Patric Muff are next up and will not have the same pressure to deal with tomorrow, neither will tenth placed Michael Laverty who has the luxury of knowing his top six place in secure.

Chris Walker lines up eleventh and faces a tough task to overturn the 25 point deficit to Lowes while Alastair Seeley’s showdown hopes are merely mathematical, rather than realistic, with the Ulsterman qualifying seventeenth.