Leon Haslam has taken his first Bennetts British Superbike pole position of the season after mastering the tricky conditions in qualifying at Knockhill.

Although the rain that disrupted proceedings in the morning had stopped by the time the riders returned to circuit, it remained damp for the session's entirety as the cold temperatures failed generate a dry line.

Nonetheless, while most riders produced their best laps with around a third of the session remaining, Haslam was the only leading rider to improve his time in the final ten minutes.

In fact, he improved his fastest lap on three occasions, topping the timesheets with nine minutes remaining before going faster again immediately afterwards. He then made pole position a foregone conclusion with his final lap time of 52.692secs, which was enough to put him out of reach by a comfortable three tenths of a second.

Up until that point it had looked as though pole position could somewhat surprisingly go the way of Michael Rutter, who was once again revelling in the damp conditions that prompted his victory back at Mallory Park.

Surging to the head of the pack with just over 15 minutes remaining, although he would be beaten by Haslam a few minutes later, his lap of 52.966secs was still good enough for the North West Ducati rider's best starting position of the season.

He was also classed as the fastest Ducati, Rutter just edging championship leader Shane Byrne into third place. The champion elect had commanded the top of the timesheets for more than half the session before he was bettered by Rutter and then Haslam. Not that he wasn't trying though, with Byrne suffering a very rare tumble at Scotsman as he battled to seize back the initiative.

Nonetheless, he still starts comfortably ahead of his closest - yet still very distant - title contenders Cal Crutchlow and Tom Sykes. Indeed, while Crutchlow and Sykes set the pace in a similarly damp practice session earlier today, fifth and seventh places on the grid mark a surprisingly lacklustre afternoon for the popular pair.

Instead, Michael Laverty completes the front row of the grid on the Relentless by TAS Suzuki, while Leon Camier looked quite a lot more comfortable aboard his Airwaves Ducati on the way to sixth best.

Oulton Park frontrunners James Ellison and Karl Harris ended the session on the fringes of the leading riders in eighth and ninth, although they are a good part of a second off the pole sitters. Tristan Palmer, who has shown well in the wet so far this year, rounded out the top ten.

Elsewhere, Billy McConnell couldn't translate his practice pace into anything more than 11th on the grid, the Australian another to experience a fall as he tried to haul himself further up the order, while other fancied runners like Atsushi Watanabe, Scott Smart and Simon Andrews start down in 16th, 18th and 19th.

In the Daily Star Cup, Gary Mason assumed the fastest time in 13th overall, but he was pushed all the way by the surprise practice pace setter Kenny Gilbertson, the Astro Racing rider starting just behind him in 14th. Chris Burns, meanwhile, starts third on the much improved MV Agusta in 16th overall.