Early-season 2010 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship leader Tommy Hill underlined his title credentials with a dominant run to a superb pole position around Thruxton – on the day when one of his chief rivals for glory this year put himself out of action and into hospital with a broken femur.
Earlier on, an accident at Goodwood – one of the quickest sections of what is the fastest circuit in the country – left Swan Honda's weekend pace-setter James Ellison sidelined, and opened the door for Hill to steal centre stage. The Worx Crescent Suzuki star did so in some style.
After lapping up at the sharp end in both Q1 and Q2 – sending the lap record tumbling into the bargain – Hill ultimately stopped the clocks a full eight tenths of a second out of reach of his closest challenger, Michael Rutter in an excellent second aboard the Ridersmotorcycles.com Ducati.
The BSB veteran narrowly pipped Ellison's team-mate Stuart Easton to P2 by a scant eight thousandths of a second in a last-gasp effort, with Hill's own team-mate Yukio Kagayama making it a good day for Suzuki by rounding out the front row of the grid in fourth.
“It was an awesome lap,” the pole-sitter told the official BSB website at the end of a dramatic Swan Combi 'Roll for Pole' session, “but I didn't even know what time I had done until I came back into pit-lane as it wasn't showing on the dashboard! I was peaking when I found out – to be under the lap record is such a good feeling.
“I was sat in the motorhome after the crash this morning feeling a bit sorry for myself, and then I got up and went to the garage and instantly felt ready to get back out there. The first session felt like being in 'Mad Max', but for me it is job done for today and see what happens tomorrow.”
The 'Mad Max' reference alluded to a tumultuous Q1, punctuated by stoppages. Buildbase Kawasaki's Adam Jenkinson put his back wheel onto the grass along the start/finish straight and crashed barely a minute in, before the hotly-tipped Alastair Seeley similarly went down at Campbell – but nonetheless proceeded to make it through to the top ten shoot-out.
Evo class competitor Steve Heneghan then brought out another red flag to allow for his stranded Quattro Plant Honda machine to be retrieved from a dangerous position at Goodwood, whilst after a bright start, Michael Laverty subsequently caused a 15-minute delay when he came off heavily at the Club Chicane, necessitating an oil clean-up. The Irishman made it through to Q2, but with his Relentless Suzuki mount proving to be too damaged to repair in time, he would take no further part in proceedings and will therefore begin race one from all the way down in 20th.
As the likes of Hill, Rutter, Easton, Kagayama, John Laverty and Josh Brookes made the running, the latter's team-mate and former double BSB Champion Ryuichi Kiyonari was struggling. After flirting with danger in the opening knock-out phase, the Japanese rider would go on to exit the fray in Q2, consequently lining up just 13th – and joining Michael Laverty on the high-profile casualty list.