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Jakub Smrz will start on pole position for a British Superbike Championship race for the first time in his career after powering to the top spot in a closely-contested qualifying session at Thruxton.

The Czech rider, who scored three pole positions during his time competing in the World Superbike Championship, left his best until the top ten deciding Q3 session, his lap time of 1min 15.281secs proving a tenth quicker than the opposition.

Also a maiden BSB pole position for the Milsport team and the 1199 Panigale bike, it is the first time a Ducati has started on pole position since Michael Rutter back in 2010, though that was achieved as a result of posting the fastest lap in race one. As such, you have to go back to 2008 for the last qualified pole position, achieved by Shane Byrne on the Airwaves Ducati 1098R in 2008.

Joining Smrz - who was well-renowned as a strong qualifier in WSBK - on the front row will be Josh Brookes on the Milwaukee Yamaha, Dan Linfoot on the Quattro Plant Kawasaki and championship leader Shane Byrne on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki.

With third to fifth place split by just three hundredths of a second, the experienced Rutter heads up row two on the Bathams BMW for his best qualifying performance of the season, ahead of erstwhile pace setter Tommy Bridewell and John Hopkins on the leading Tyco Suzuki.

Continuing his strong top ten form from practice, Peter Hickman gave RAF Reserves Honda its first top ten starting position in eighth place, ahead of Chris Walker and Jon Kirkham, the latter making a big improvement for qualifying on the Halsall Kawasaki.

Prior to the top ten shootout there was a surprise when title contender Ryuichi Kiyonari failed to make the cut, the Japanese rider caught unawares by a late improvement by Hopkins that saw the American finish Q2 fastest of all.

Leaving him 11th on the grid, the Buildbase BMW rider was joined outside the leading order by the in-form Richard Cooper, who suffered a red flag-inducing fall at Campbell that left him nursing his arm. The Anvil Hire TAG Kawasaki rider was classified in 12th place.

Lee Jackson and Patric Muff were others to crash in Q2, the duo in 13th and 15th respectively, but ahead of Brands Hatch winner Josh Waters in 16th and Title Showdown contender Stuart Easton, the Scot struggling on the Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki in 19th.


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