for BSB Donington Park Qualifying results
Tyco Suzuki's John Hopkins more than made up for the disappointment of a technical issue in FP3 to grab his first pole start of the 2014 MCE British Superbike Championship at Donington Park.
The American rider, who pushed Tommy Hill all the way in the 2011 championship, narrowly missing out on the title in a final, memorable race at Brands Hatch by 0.006 seconds, joined the Northern Ireland team amidst great expectations this year, but has struggled to be competitive on the GSX-R1000 during a disappointing campaign.
Hopkins has missed out on a place in the Showdown regardless of what happens at Donington Park, with team-mate Josh Waters also out of contention, but the former Suzuki MotoGP rider has the opportunity to restore some pride on Sunday.
He stormed to pole in Q3 with a stunning lap in 1m 29.555s, only just holding off resurgent Buildbase BWW rider Ryuichi Kiyonari. The Japanese star, already understood to have signed on the dotted line for 2015 in BSB with an as yet unnamed team, only 0.039s in arrears.
Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider Shane 'Shakey' Byrne – who is battling with Kiyonari to make history by wrapping up a fourth BSB crown this year – completes the front row in third, 0.133s down on Hopkins.
Scottish rider Stuart Easton heads up row two on the second of Paul Bird's Kawasakis as the Hawick rider maintain his challenge for the final Showdown place.
Louth's Peter Hickman, enjoying a huge career revival this year at the international road race meetings and in BSB, qualified fifth on the RAF Reserves Honda ahead of Milwaukee Yamaha's Josh Brookes.
Tommy Bridewell, Quattro Plant Kawasaki's Dan Linfoot and James Westmoreland on the second of the Buildbase BMW S1000RRs were the top 10.
It was Byrne who put down a marker first in Q3 as he was quickly into the 1m 29s bracket to lead from Easton, Brookes and Kiyonari, but Hopkins – undeterred after missing FP3 due to a technical issue with his machine – looked menacing an scaled the top of the times with a searing 1m 29.555s lap as Kiyonari shunted Byrne back to third.
Brookes, who ran into the gravel during Q2, briefly threatened to challenge for pole in the closing stages as he bettered Hopkins through the first sector, but the Aussie was unable improve and had to settle for sixth on row two.
Kiyo had topped the times in Q1 from Brookes, Hopkins and Linfoot, with Gary Mason, Ben Wilson and Barry Burrell among those riders who failed to progress to Q2.
Triple World Endurance champion and Donington wildcard rider Julien da Costa was the surprise early frontrunner in Q2 from Brookes – who ran into the gravel at the Foggy Esses – Walker and Hickman with eight minutes remaining.
Da Costa slid off at Goddards, with Kiyonari now top from Byrne, Westmoreland, Easton, Brookes and Hopkins. A late flyer by Hickman knocked Da Costa out of Q3 as Kiyo finished Q2 on top from Byrne and Bridewell, with Hopkins eighth.
Along with Da Costa, Patric Muff, Jon Kirkham, Chris Walker, James Ellison, Michael Rutter and Martin Jessopp were some of the names to miss out on a final qualifying shootout slot.