Michel Fabrizio heads into Superpole with form on his side after claiming the quickest lap of the weekend during second qualification at Miller Motorsports Park.
Having had his chances of a better position in provisional qualifying scuppered by a gearbox problem, Fabrizio responded perfectly when it mattered to set a blistering lap time of 1min 49.204secs shortly before the end of the session.
Only Ducati counterpart Jakub Smrz was able to get close, the Czech rider having snatched the initiative by half a second from Ben Spies before being usurped himself soon afterwards by a mere tenth.
Spies had been in charge for much of the session having crept below Max Biaggi's provisional effort with twenty minutes remaining, but would not get close to his Ducati rivals. The American bids for a seventh consecutive Superpole later today.
However, the session was also notable for an accident involving championship leader Noriyuki Haga. Twelve months on from breaking his collarbone in a practice accident around the Utah circuit, the Japanese rider came down hard to prompt a red flag period. Although he was a concern immediately after the fall, Haga appears to be bruised, but otherwise unharmed.
Nonetheless, he makes it through to Superpole comfortably having posted the eighth fastest time beforehand, just behind Biaggi – who didn't improve on his earlier effort -, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Carlos Checa and Jonathan Rea, the Ten Kate Honda trio looking menacing for a good performance in the qualifying decider.
Elsewhere, the session certainly threw up some surprises in the field, with Fonsi Nieto rocketing up from a provisional 25th to ninth position as he continues to find a good setting on the Suzuki, while Karl Muggeridge was also a surprise top ten rider on the Celani GSX-R1000.
Beyond Spies, local fans will have Jamie Hacking to cheer on in Superpole too having qualified a provisional 11th, although Jake Zemke will not reappear after failing to improve on his time, leaving him 23rd.
He will be joined on the sidelines by three other notable casualties in Tom Sykes and both BMW riders, Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus. Tommy Hill will also start at the back after suffering a crash early on in the session and failing to rejoin.
Fellow Britons Leon Haslam and Shane Byrne are through to fight another day, however, in 13th and 14th respectively, although the absence of the high profile trio means Lorenzo Lanzi has made it through on his debut for DFX Ducati, while both Pedercini Kawasakis will also get a Superpole chance too.