Shane Byrne has secured pole position in a rain-affected qualifying at Snetterton, as championship leader James Ellison crashed out just as the weather turned.

After a sudden but short downpour midway through the second qualifying session the riders were thrown into uncertainty about how hard to push the grip on the drying track. Honda Racing's Jason O'Halloran took provisional pole with his first quick lap until Byrne pushed a bit harder to grab pole with a 1m 48.376s.

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Byrne will head the Honda Racing duo of O'Halloran and Dan Linfoot - who recovered from a low side crash in Q1 - on the front row at Snetterton, pushing Milwaukee Yamaha's Josh Brookes on to the second row of the grid after he had a small moment on his final flyer.

The Tyco BMW pair of Tommy Bridewell and Michal Laverty join Brookes on the second row while Byrne's team-mate Stuart Easton grabbed seventh on the grid.

JG Speedfit Kawasaki's Ellison progressed into the final qualifying session but after suffering his off in Q2 as the rain struck, he was left with no machinery to put up a fight and will start tomorrow's races from tenth on the grid, behind Quattro Plant Kawasaki's Luke Mossey and Bennetts Suzuki's Josh Waters.

Earlier in qualifying at the Norfolk circuit, Jakub Smrz suffered a high speed off in Q1 as he collided with Victor Cox into the Brundle corner. The Czech Republic rider's Ducati was totalled and despite making it through to Q2 he was unable to compete and will start from 20th.

As if to be on cue, spits of rain began falling during the intermission between Q1 and Q2, delaying the start of the session. Due to the uncertain weather conditions every rider darted out as the session started to ensure they wouldn't get caught out.

Quickest in free practice Ellison went fastest in Q2 but was the unlucky man to be caught out by the sudden downpour when he was flicked off at Riches. The JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider was thrown off the front end, with his front wheel going over his midriff, but the BSB championship leader was able to limp away.

The sudden rain shower meant none of the riders could improve on their times meaning their first laps decided the order for Q2, with Ryuichi Kiyonari and Broc Parkes the biggest losers.

Race direction declared Q3 a wet session, with ten untimed minutes to allow riders to get used to the slippery surface. O'Halloran was the first to test out the track and endured a couple of heart-in-mouth slides as he tiptoed around the circuit.

However, the experience of the defending BSB champion paid dividends as he stormed to P1 by over a second to take his 35th career pole in the series.