Ben Spies resumed his status as the master of Superpole after getting his quickest lap in just before a smattering of rain prevented anyone from challenging him at Donington Park.

His eighth pole position of the season, Spies' effort of 1min 29.846secs was timed to perfection as the riders struggled to react on the increasingly slippery surface.

Prior to the shootout, weather conditions had been cloudy, but warm, only for a light shower to make its presence known just as the eight remaining riders made it back out on circuit for the deciding final session.

It meant the first lap attempts would prove crucial, with Spies going immediately fastest to almost match his best effort during the completely dry second qualifying session. Almost straight away, however, the rain intensified and no other rider could possibly beat him.

While the identity of the pole winner may not come as a surprise, the remainder of the front row defied expectations, with Aprilia's Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano securing second and fourth, while Shane Byrne emerged as the top British competitor in third.

Indeed, Aprilia's form when it mattered proved a surprise, the RSV-4 having been out of contention for much of the weekend thus far. Although both riders later admitted their final positions were somewhat fortuitous, their pace in the run up to the shootout had been impressive regardless.

In a session that didn't live up to the expectations of the British riders, Byrne was the only home grown rider to make it into the shootout having foreseen the rain to put his qualifying tyre on in Q2, before going to qualify an eventual third - another seasonal improvement for the Sterilgarda Ducati man.

Over at the factory Xerox team, Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga - a provisional 1-2 after second qualification - had hoped to be challenging pole position having proved quick during the knockout phases too, however, the adverse weather caught them out, leaving Fabrizio fifth and Haga sixth.

Of the remaining shootout contenders, Carlos Checa was a solid seventh for Ten Kate Honda, while Jakub Smrz misses out on the top six for only the third occasion this year after failing to get out on track in time to set a representative lap.

Beyond Byrne, there was disappointment for the remaining five British riders that made it into Superpole. Leon Camier was the first to be eliminated during the opening phase, the Airwaves Yamaha rider struggling with his spare bike, equipped with race tyres, having damaged his number one machine during Q2. He will start 17th.

Four would go on to miss out in Q2 after a series of late lap times shook up the final order. Leon Haslam was bitterly disappointed to miss out on the shootout after being bumped down by a late Michel Fabrizio effort, the Stiggy rider being prevented from progressing by just 0.003secs.

Tom Sykes was also punished for not going back out on circuit in the latter stages having believed he was safe, the Yamaha rider ending up tenth, while Jonathan Rea was on course to reach the shootout when he final sector time let him down to leave him 12th. James Ellison on the second wild-card Airwaves Yamaha starts 14th.

Elsewhere, John Hopkins put in a good performance to qualify in 11th position, although Gregorio Lavilla - a consistent top ten performer all weekend - was left a frustrating 13th on the Guandalini Ducati.

Other disappointments included 2008 winner Ryuichi Kiyonari, the Japanese rider's dismal Donington weekend continuing to leave him a lowly 20th position.