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Hill flings to Highland pole

23 June 2012

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Tommy Hill has taken his third MCE British Superbike Championship pole position of the season at Knockhill after rebuffing the attentions of Michael Laverty in a weather-affected qualifying session.

The Swan Yamaha rider, who qualified on pole position at Thruxton and Oulton Park, was always in the running throughout the knockout phases, but a downpour just prior to the start of Q3 threw a curve ball for the remaining ten riders.

Nonetheless, the shower was brief, ensuring lap times would eventually be trimmed to a dry standard, with Hill steadily lowering his best to keep the ever-present Michael Laverty at bay. Ending the session with a lap of 48.785secs, the reigning champion was less than a tenth faster than the Samsung Honda rider, who saw his challenge end with a tumble on his final flyer.

With eight of the top ten in the overall standings reaching Q3, the top five would almost mirror that of the top five on the leaderboard, with Josh Brookes making up the three-man front row, while Shane Byrne and Padgetts Honda's Ian Lowry remain poised in fourth and fifth.

Noriyuki Haga will start sixth, but only after a rollercoaster session saw him crash towards the end of Q1, making it onto track late in Q2 as a result, before then jumping to the top of the timesheets in the closing stages of that session. Though unable to replicate that pace in Q3, sixth still marks a respectable result on his first visit to the Scottish circuit.

Graeme Gowland headed up WFR Honda's charge in seventh place, with James Westmoreland also cracking the top ten in ninth, the pair split by the Supersonic BMW of Tommy Bridewell. Alistair Seeley, meanwhile, will start tenth, the first time the Ulsterman has made it into Q3 this year.

Prior to the downpour that afflicted Q3, qualifying had been mostly dry, with initial damp conditions giving way to a racing line for both knockout phases.

Amongst those just missing the cut to make it into Q3 were Alex Lowes, who was nudged down by a late improvement from Seeley, Michael Rutter and Barry Burrell, who looked on course for his first-ever BSB top ten start until a series of improvements with less than two minutes remaining.

Racing on despite injuring both of his heels in a free practice accident, Chris Walker wound up an impressive 17th fastest, just behind 15th place man Jon Kirkham and ahead of Patric Muff.

Having shown a decent turn in practice, Peter Hickman – who is standing in for the injured Dan Linfoot at Buildbase BMW this weekend – was an early qualifying casualty in 24th, while Splitlath Redmond Aprilia just missed out on the chance to make Q2 for the first time this season with John Laverty and Florian Marino 22nd and 23rd respectively.


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