Ben Spies has claimed a fifth World Superbike Championship pole position at Monza, maintaining his perfect start to the season over a single lap.

Having allowed his rivals to set a relentless benchmark pace during the knockout phases, Spies was in unstoppable form around the high-speed Italian circuit when it mattered, his one and only quick lap putting him well clear of the competition.

Despite Spies' immaculate pace over a single lap so far this year, it was Michel Fabrizio that entered Superpole with the tag of favourite having topped nearly every session beforehand, while he was also the new lap record holder following Q2.

However, while the Italian's effort of 1min 44.270secs was the only lap to get remotely close to Spies, the American still came away with two tenths in hand - as well as eight tenths on Troy Bayliss' now decimated lap record.

Before Spies and Fabrizio, Ryuichi Kiyonari put in a surprise showing on the Ten Kate Honda to set a benchmark of 1min 44.642secs, the Japanese rider's single effort proving good enough to cling onto third - his first front row start since Donington Park 2008.

He will be joined at the head of the field by Suzuki's Max Neukirchner, who in turn made it four different manufacturers in the first four positions by edging out Noriyuki Haga.

Having already been forced onto the back foot in Q2 when he was made to put in a late lap just to reach the shootout, Haga briefly held fourth, only for Neukirchner to snatch it from him at the death.

Like team-mate Kiyonari, Jonathan Rea kept his running to a minimum, but his sole effort remained good enough for sixth position, ahead of Max Biaggi, who recovered from a tumble during Q2 to make the top eight and out-qualify Yukio Kagayama in seventh and eighth once there.

Off the front two rows, Carlos Checa will start in ninth position, ahead of a disappointed Tom Sykes, who could only manage tenth on the grid having run as high as second during provisional qualification.

Although not quite the top ten they were aiming for, Troy Corser went some way to addressing BMW's Superpole woes by securing their best starting position yet in 11th position, while Ruben Xaus backed him up in 14th.

Regis Laconi recovered from an early off to go 12th, while Broc Parkes marked his return to competition with a fine run to 13th position. Shane Byrne and Shinya Nakano fill the remainder of the fourth row.

Elsewhere, Leon Haslam was the big name missing from Q2 and the shootout after failing to progress beyond the opening knockout phase. Together with fellow Assen podium winner Jakub Smrz, they will start on the fifth row of the grid in 17th and 20th respectively.

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