Cal Crutchlow has taken his second consecutive World Superbike pole position in Valencia after successfully defying pre-Superpole predictions to out pace Carlos Checa and Max Biaggi.

The Sterilgarda Yamaha rider was only 15th quickest heading into Superpole, but he cruised through the two knockout phases before his one and only fast lap of 1min 33.615secs during the shootout kept his rivals at bay by a comfortable margin.

Indeed, while it still fell four tenths short of Ben Spies' lap record, set last season, Crutchlow remained two tenths faster than Checa, the man many had tipped as the one to beat heading into Superpole.

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With Checa setting the pace in Q1 and Biaggi following suit in Q2, their presence in second and third was less of a surprise than Crutchlow's pole position, the Briton having barely troubled the top ten in the run up to Superpole.

However, with thousandths, rather than tenths, being used to separate the riders, many would be forced to use up their quota of qualifying tyres in an attempt to reach the final phase making predicting the grid order difficult throughout.

Behind the top three, championship leader Leon Haslam endured a somewhat stressful session after only squeezing into S3 with a last gasp lap.

Things were made all the more confusing when the timing screens didn't update and originally showed Haslam as having failed to qualify.

Nonetheless, the error would soon be remedied and when the timesheets did refresh it left some surprise names out of the running, including James Toseland in ninth - having missed out by just one thousandth of a second -, Michel Fabrizio tenth and Noriyuki Haga in 11th.

Instead, Troy Corser delivered BMW their best-ever qualifying position in fifth, while Sylvain Guintoli in sixth represented a surprising upturn in form after a fairly quiet weekend thus far. Jonathan Rea and Lorenzo Lanzi, who fell in the final session, would make up the rest of the shootout participants but would end up seventh and eighth.

Elsewhere, Shane Byrne and Jakub Smrz - third and fourth heading into Superpole - were a disappointing 12th and 14th respectively, while Leon Camier's vow to improve his qualifying performances fell flat in 13th.

Luca Scassa will start 15th on the privateer Supersonic Ducati, ahead of Max Neukirchner, who was left 16th when his Ten Kate Honda expired in spectacular fashion down the home straight.

Prior to SP2, Ruben Xaus was another to be eliminated by a mere thousandth of a second in 17th, with Tom Sykes and Andrew Pitt 18th and 19th, while Sheridan Morais was 20th after failing to set a time when he crashed.