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Tommy Hill has put himself in a prime position to recover lost ground in the MCE British Superbike Championship after cruising to pole at Thruxton.

The Swan Yamaha rider arrived at the high-speed Hampshire venue keen to make amends for a dismal season opener at Brands Hatch, the 2011 champion qualifying poorly before crashing out of the only race to be held around the Kent circuit.

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Nonetheless, Hill struck back in formidable fashion by cruising into the top ten shootout before pumping in an opening target of 1min 15.613secs during SP3. Going on to lower the benchmark again with a 1min 15.260secs effort, Hill's eventual half second margin ensured either lap would have been good enough to secure his 12th career BSB pole.

Lining up alongside him will be Ian Lowry, the Ulsterman maintaining his impressive free practice pace by claiming a career-best starting position aboard the Padgetts Honda, while MSS Bathams' Michael Rutter led the Kawasaki charge in third.

Completing front row, like Lowry, the qualifying session also marked a maiden outright top four start for James Westmoreland and the WFR Honda team.

In fact, a number of notable performances would emerge from the qualifying session, which began damp but would dry by the conclusion of SP2 and the entirety of SP3.

Indeed, Chris Walker's run to fifth on the grid marks his best grid position since Mallory Park in 2009, the Pr1mo Bournemouth Kawasaki Racing rider climbing the order with his very final lap, while BSB rookie Luca Scassa starts inside the top ten for the first time aboard the second of the Padgetts Honda.

A frustrating session for Tyco Suzuki, which looked amongst the favourites for pole position having lapped with the pace setters all weekend, while Josh Brookes was able to qualify in seventh, it was only after squeezing through SP1 and SP2 with last gasp laps. His team-mate Alastair Seeley, however, could only manage 17th position on the grid.

Back inside the top ten, last year's shock pole sitter Alex Lowes was another WFR Honda rider inside the top ten in eighth, ahead of Brands Hatch race winner Jon Kirkham and Patric Muff, the Swiss racer making a welcome SP3 debut on the improving Supersonic BMW.

His surprise inclusion inside the top ten came at the expense of other better fancied runners, including Michael Laverty, who was again out paced by his Samsung Honda team-mate on the way to a fairly mediocre 13th, and Noriyuki Haga, who was dumped out of SP2 in 16th only minutes after finishing the damp SP1 session with the second quickest lap time.

There was also disappointment for the Rapid Solicitors PBM Kawasaki team as Shane Byrne, a race winner at Thruxton in 2011, could only manage 15th, while team-mate Stuart Easton was a casualty in the first knockout session in 21st.