John Hopkins will start from pole position for the first time in his burgeoning British Superbike Championship career at Snetterton after producing a fantastic session-topping lap.

The American was in contention throughout the qualifying phases, though the fact he had to make do with second - behind Jon Kirkham in SP1 and Shane Byrne in SP2 - suggested he wasn't the only pole position favourite.

However, the Samsung Crescent Suzuki rider came good when it mattered to produce a lap of 1min 47.451secs around the newly-extended Norfolk circuit. Half a second faster than Tommy Hill, it marks the first-ever BSB pole position by an American rider.

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A strong session for Suzuki, Hopkins's team-mate Kirkham and Relentless by TAS rider Josh Brookes completed the front row behind Hill after consistently strong showings during the knockout phases.

Loris Baz maintained his good qualifying form to go fifth quickest for Motorpoint Yamaha, ahead of championship leader Byrne, who couldn't replicate his SP2 pace as he settled for sixth on the grid - 1.5secs behind Hopkins.

Following a breakthrough performance at Knockhill, James Westmoreland qualified in seventh on the second Motorpoint R1, ahead of reigning champion Ryuichi Kiyonari, the Japanese rider still looking fairly lacklustre in his bid to re-energise his title charge.

Heading up the third row, Chris Walker continued to make grounds for Pr1mo Kawasaki by qualifying as the top ZX-10R rider for the first time this season, ahead of MSS Colchester pair Alex Lowes and Gary Mason in tenth and eleventh.

Elsewhere, Michael Laverty was a notable absentee from the top ten as he could only manage 12th, while fellow 'top six title shootout' contenders Peter Hickman and Michael Rutter were 13th and 14th.

In the EVO class, Graeme Gowland qualified in pole position in 15th overall, ahead of Simon Andrews in 18th and Glen Richards in 21st.