Alex Lowes has taken a remarkable maiden British Superbike Championship pole position at Thruxton in his first weekend with the MSS Colchester Kawasaki team.

The youngster made the switch to the Kawasaki UK backed team earlier in the week as a replacement for the injured Stuart Easton, Lowes having parted company with the WFR Honda team just days prior to that.

Though he started slowly as he got to grips with the ZX-10R for the first time in practice, Lowes hinted at a potential upset as he went fourth quickest in FP3, but pole position remains a startling achievement for the erstwhile EVO leader.

A first pole position for the MSS Colchester Kawasaki team also, Lowes's effort of 1min 14.891s was enough to deny John Hopkins from scoring a similar achievement on the Samsung Crescent Suzuki, the American falling just 0.016secs short.

They will be joined on the front row for the opening race by Tommy Hill, who made a late advance up to third, while Michael Rutter was a fine fourth aboard the Rapid Bathams Ducati.

Peter Hickman carried his impressive form from practice into qualifying, the Tyco Honda rider securing his best ever starting position of fifth, just three hundredths off Rutter in fourth, but ahead of Ryuichi Kiyonari on the 2011 HM Plant Honda CBR1000RR.

Michael Laverty will start in seventh, ahead of Loris Baz and James Westmoreland, the Motorpoint Yamaha pair not quite able to turn their excellent practice pace into anything more than eighth and ninth come qualifying. Dan Linfoot rounds out the top ten aboard the SMT Honda.

One notable absentee from the top ten shootout was Shane Byrne, the championship leader crashing at the Club Chicane on his first flying lap during the opening qualifying phase. Unable to return to the track, Byrne will start the opening race from the back of the grid.

Missing out on a top ten grid position, Chris Walker was unlucky to end up in 11th, the Pr1mo Kawasaki rider managing an identical lap time to that of shootout participant Baz during SP2, but losing out on count-back.

Still, he did out-qualify Martin Jessopp in 12th, Croft winner Jon Kirkham in 13th and Josh Brookes in 14th, the Australian's cause not helped by a mechanical problem on his Relentless Suzuki.

Elsewhere, Ian Lowry produced Buildbase BMW's best qualifying effort of the season in 15th, ahead of top EVO rider Glen Richards, while Gary Mason will be left disappointed in 19th while his new team-mate celebrates pole position.

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