Josh Brookes has taken pole position for the first of three races at Brands Hatch after coming out top of a pulsating qualifying session.

The Australian, who won a race at Brands Hatch from 14th on the grid earlier this season, pulled out an exceptional 1min 25.111secs lap when it mattered to edge out Michael Laverty and John Hopkins.

Indeed, Hopkins had seemingly done enough for pole position when his lap undercut the record by two tenths of a second, only for Laverty to swing the advantage in his favour just seconds later. However, it was Brookes who would come out top for his first pole position with Relentless by TAS Suzuki.

Crucially for Hopkins, he will start just ahead of Tommy Hill, but while they remain alongside one another in third and fourth positions, the Swan Yamaha rider was three tenths slower than his key rival.

While four of the five 'title fighters' start up at the front, the fifth one, Shane Byrne, will begin down in 19th after crashing at the start of SP2 at Westfields. Clutching his arm as he clambered back up, it remains to be seen whether he has done damage that could rule him out of today's race.

Behind them, James Ellison secured one of SMT Honda's best-ever grid positions in fifth place, ahead of Michael Rutter and Jon Kirkham, the latter looking to secure the 'Riders' Cup' this weekend.

Graeme Gowland was once again the fastest EVO rider in eighth, even if his final qualifying time was half a second down on what he managed in SP2 when he went second fastest. A similar lap time in SP3 would have gotten him on the front row.

Martin Jessopp and Alex Lowes complete the top ten, while outgoing champion Ryuichi Kiyonari starts in 14th position.