Noriyuki Haga has taken only the seventh pole position of his World Superbike career after ousting Jonathan Rea in a closely fought Superpole at the Nurburgring.

Renowned for his race craft, rather than his pace over a single lap, Haga was nonetheless peerless throughout the three sessions, topping each one to become only the second rider after Jakub Smrz this season to deny Ben Spies a pole position.

He was made to work hard for the pole position though, with Jonathan Rea's initial effort during the shootout doing enough to resist every other rider at that time.

It would take a second attempt from Haga to knock him from the top, although the three tenth advantage he would emerge with is indicative of his form around the German circuit, the scene of a double win last season.

By contrast, Spies, a nine-time pole position winner this season, couldn't match Haga's pace, although his progress had been stymied by an accident during second practice immediately before Superpole.

Nonetheless, while Spies eased into Superpole, he couldn't quite get on terms with the frontrunners, eventually emerging off the front row in fifth position, half a second slower than Haga.

Between him he will have Leon Haslam, who flew the British flag in third position on the Stiggy Honda after a marvellous effort, and Haga's Ducati Xerox team-mate Michel Fabrizio. It was a particularly good effort from Honda pair Rea and Haslam, both equalling their best ever qualifying performances to line up alongside each other on the front row of the grid.

Joining Spies on the row just behind, Troy Corser recovered from nearly missing a spot in Superpole itself to reach the shootout for the second race in a row. Delighting the BMW team on their home ground, Corser was second fastest heading into the latter stages but would eventually settle for sixth position on the grid.

Having failed to feature inside the top ten once all weekend, Max Biaggi was a surprising front runner for the Aprilia team in seventh. The Italian, a winner last time out at Brno, was amongst the leaders throughout the session, ending the day on a positive note for the team having seen Shinya Nakano fail to qualify for Superpole at all. Fellow MotoGP alumni Carlos Checa rounded out the shootout participants in eighth.

Outside the top eight, there was disappointment for Tom Sykes and Shane Byrne, both of whom looked a comfortable bet for the front two rows after showing strong pace during practice and provisional qualifying.

However, Sykes was left in the most frustrating position of all when a late effort by Fabrizio bumped him down to ninth with only a few seconds of the Q2 clock remaining. Byrne was a similar casualty in tenth, although his cause wasn't aided by a mechanical problem for his Sterilgarda Ducati during the opening session.

Another one to only just make it into Superpole, Fonsi Nieto put in a much improved performance on the DFX Ducati in 11th, ahead of the invigorated Makoto Tamada, who out-qualified Kawasaki team-mate Broc Parkes in 12th for the second race in succession.

It was also enough to get the manufacturer ahead of both Suzukis, with Yukio Kagayama only 13th quickest, while Karl Muggeridge, having been eighth fastest in provisional qualifying, was one of the four to be eliminated in Q1 as he had to settle for 17th.

Between them, Jakub Smrz starts 14th after a major moment on his fastest lap prevented him to taking up his assumed spot in the shootout, ahead of Broc Parkes - who fell during Q1 - and Matthieu Lagrive.

Joining Muggeridge for an early bath was Ryuichi Kiyonari, the third consecutive race he has not made it out of Q1, John Hopkins and Vittorio Iannuzzo, the Italian's first experience of Superpole ending with him almost two seconds off the nearest rider.

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