Michael Laverty has taken his second MCE British Superbike Championship pole position in three rounds after holding off a determined John Hopkins in qualifying at Silverstone.

The Swan Yamaha rider heads into the second of three 'title showdown' rounds eager to make up ground after a costly crash at Donington Park, but the Ulsterman has given himself a good chance to keep in contention by setting the qualifying pace.

His lap time of 2mins 05.056secs was just enough to beat Hopkins to pole position, the American's gamble of sitting out FP3 in an effort to preserve the condition of his injured finger ultimately preventing him from sealing the top spot.

Nonetheless, the championship leader remains well placed in second position, not least because his nearest rival Tommy Hill could only manage fifth on the grid, while Shane Byrne fared even worse down in a lowly 13th.

Instead, Josh Brookes turned around an average practice performance to claim third on the grid for Relentless Suzuki, though it was Michael Rutter - who is still struggling with his rib injury - who stole the headlines with his excellent run to fourth aboard the Rapid Bathams Ducati.

Next to Hill on row two, Jon Kirkham will start from sixth position, ahead of Martin Jessopp, who held onto seventh despite crashing out late in the final session. Peter Hickman completes the second row, while top EVO rider Graeme Gowland and Dan Linfoot, making his debut for Tyco Honda this weekend, round out the top ten.

Further back, Byrne's failure to make it into Q2 sealed a dismal day for the HM Plant Honda team after Ryuichi Kiyonari could only manage 16th himself. On the weekend he could be forced to concede the defence of his title, Kiyonari was actually lucky to get that high up the grid after sneaking in SP2 with the 20th best lap...

Meanwhile, despite Gowland's exceptional recent form, his WFR Honda team-mate Glen Richards remains on course for the EVO title in 11th.