Milwaukee Yamaha's James Ellison has a mountain to climb in the opening MCE British Superbike race at Thruxton, where he will start from the fifth row in 17th position.

Ellison badly needed more time on his YZF-R1 after a technical issue slowed his progress during free practice, but the decision to abandon final qualifying on safety grounds due to heavy rain prevented the Brands Hatch winner from improving his place on the grid, with positions decided based on the combined free practice times.

Although he fully supports the organisers' decision to cancel qualifying, Ellison admitted he had been left 'gutted' with his final position.

"It was a good call by the organisers as conditions were too dangerous this afternoon but I am gutted that we have to start so far back on the grid due to the issues we had yesterday," he said.

"We have the pace to run at the front for sure, but we haven't seemed to have the luck we need these last two rounds.

"We just have to get our heads down tomorrow in the race and get the Milwaukee Yamaha back at the sharp end."

His team-mate, Aussie Josh Waters, earned an impressive second row start on his first visit to the fast Thruxton circuit and hopes to make a break with the leaders.

"A second row start isn't too bad as I can hopefully get in and follow the lead group in the races tomorrow.

"We made some changes so we will see what the weather does in the morning; there are certain sections where I know I need to work at a bit more in warm up so we can see where we are at tomorrow," said Waters.

"Hopefully we can have two strong races for Milwaukee Yamaha."