Ben Spies maintained his run of World Superbike pole positions at Kyalami, but only by the narrowest possible margin after he and main rival Michel Fabrizio posted final flying laps 0.001secs apart.
The American, who has topped every Superpole session in what is his debut WSBK campaign, looked second best to Fabrizio during the build-up to the knock-out session, but then headed every phase to make it a record-equalling sixth pole for the season, moving alongside countryman Doug Polen at the head of the list.
Spies had headed the final eight runners into the last five minutes of the session, but was relying on a lap of 1min 37.366secs that had Fabrizio believing that he could end the run. However, just as the Italian was posting a 1min 37.289secs effort that appeared good enough for pole, Spies trumped him with a lap just
good enough to preserve his supremacy.
Behind the top two, Max Biaggi produced a late, late lap of his own to vault from seventh to third, having languished last of all for a while. The Italian veteran's effort was good enough to push WSBK points leader Nori Haga to fourth, and dump Jonathan Rea - and Honda - off the front row altogether.
The Irishman, who was in the fastest three for much of the opening part of the session, was just under a tenth slower than Haga, and will share row two with Jakob Smrz, Carlos Checa and Tom Sykes.