Shane Byrne will start his first British Superbike Championship race in more than two years from pole position after smashing the Brands Hatch Indy lap record during qualifying.
A typically fast and frenetic shootout session indicative of the circuit's short layout, Byrne's team-mate Ryuichi Kiyonari looked to be heading for the top spot when he pumped in a lap of 45.192secs during the third and final qualifying phase.
However, two exceptional laps from Byrne, culminating in a 45.112secs time, would undercut both Kiyonari and the existing lap record, which has stood for four years.
Kiyonari held onto second position to ensure reigning champions HM Plant Honda will start the 2011 season with a 1-2 position on the grid.
Swan Yamaha posed their closest competition by rounding out the front row, Michael Laverty getting the edge on Tommy Hill.
Their efforts were enough to deny a superb effort from Loris Baz, the Frenchman, who was the surprise FP3 pace setter, continuing his fine form on the Motorpoint Yamaha to make it three YZF-R1s inside the top five.
Michael Rutter will start in sixth position after a strong qualifying effort aboard the Rapid-Bathams Ducati, while Jon Kirkham emerged as the top Suzuki rider in an otherwise frustrating session for the Japanese manufacturer.
Indeed, qualifying threw up a few surprises, with a number of fancied riders falling foul of the shootout system, including John Hopkins and Josh Brookes. The pair found themselves in the drop zone at the end of Q2, Hopkins left a disappointing 11th having never been outside the top five during any of the practice sessions, while Brookes could only place the Relentless Suzuki in 13th.
Their absence allowed Tyco Honda's Tommy Bridewell and Motorpoint Yamaha's James Westmoreland to make notable top ten appearances in eighth and ninth positions, the latter proving particularly impressive having only scraped into Q2 with the 20th best time.
Just behind them, MSS Colchester Kawasaki endured mixed fortunes with Stuart Easton a solid tenth on the ZX-10R, though Gary Mason could only manage 16th on the grid.
Elsewhere, Dan Linfoot – another rider who had been pushing inside the top ten so far this weekend – was 12th, while Chris Walker will start Pr1mo Kawasaki's first race from 15th place and John Laverty is 19th on the grid for Buildbase BMW.
In the EVO category, WFR Honda were once again the dominant force, with Graeme Gowland edging out Glen Richards in 17th and 18th overall, while Alex Lowes made it a 1-2-3 in 21st position. James Hillier and Craig Fitzpatrick start fourth and fifth in class.