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Sam Lowes will start at the front of the World Supersport grid for the third time this season after a last gasp effort at Monza proved just enough to deny Florian Marino his maiden pole position.
The Frenchman, who is competing in his third race as substitute for the injured David Salom on the Intermoto Kawasaki ZX-6R, looked well on course to claim an unexpected pole position when his mid-session time of 1min 48.154secs kept him top of the timesheets all the way to the chequered flag.
However, Lowes would leave his best until very late, the Assen race winner circulating the Italian circuit at the death in 1min 47.899secs, comfortably demoting Marino into what remains a career-best second position on the grid.
The youngster splits Lowes from key rival Kenan Sofuoglu on the front row, the Turk half a second adrift of the Yakhnich Yamaha rider at the close of the session.
Shining on home soil, Lorenzo Zanetti secured his best WSS qualifying result to date with a run to fourth place on the Pata Honda, the local rider just heading off Puccetti Kawasaki riders Stefano Cruciani and Riccardo Russo, the latter recovering to sixth after an earlier accident.
Currently first and second in the overall standings, Fabien Foret and Michael van der Mark have their work cut out from ninth and seventh respectively, the pair being split by Kev Coghlan on the DMC Lorenzini Kawasaki.
Luca Marconi rounds out the top ten to give some hope for the beleaguered PTR Honda team, just ahead of Mathew Scholtz, who came close to giving the Suriano Suzuki its first top ten start of the year, and Sheridan Morais.
Elsewhere, Jack Kennedy will start down in 17th place aboard the RivaMoto Honda, while Christian Iddon is in 26th place. His MV Agusta team-mate Roberto Rolfo starts 20th.