Jonathan Rea will start from pole position for the first time in his World Superbike career after fending off Jakub Smrz and Troy Corser during Superpole at Assen.

A crucial performance for the Ten Kate Honda team on home ground, Rea's first soft-tyre lap during the shootout was enough to keep his rivals at bay by a comfortable tenth of a second, the Northern Irishman becoming the first rider to break 1min 35secs around the new-look Assen TT circuit in the process.

A first pole position for Rea on the world stage, the two-time WSBK race winner made swift progress through both knockout phases but looked as though he would be in fierce competition for pole position with Corser and Smrz, his closest rivals throughout the weekend.

However, while Smrz was quicker than Rea through splits one and two, the Czech rider couldn't not maintain his advantage into the latter stages of the lap as he fell just short. As such, the result would leave the Ten Kate team to celebrate its first pole position since Carlos Checa's top spot at Miller Motorsports Park in 2008.

A session littered with notable performances beyond Rea and Smrz, Corser will give BMW its first-ever front row start as he followed through on his breakthrough practice pace in third.

Championship leader Leon Haslam completes the front row, the Suzuki rider putting himself in an excellent position to extend his advantage in the standings after closest rival Max Biaggi could only manage 11th.

Biaggi's lack of pace will be made even more galling by the fact he was easily out-qualified his Aprilia team-mate Leon Camier, the Briton breaking into the top eight on his first visit to Assen to put his RSV-4 an excellent fifth, just two tenths off the front row.

With five different manufacturers inside the top five, Ducati would break the pattern in sixth, seventh and eighth, although once more it was the Althea pair of Carlos Checa and Shane Byrne who would get the better of the sole Xerox entry into the shootout, Michel Fabrizio.

Beyond the front two rows, some high-profile names failed to progress into SP3, in particular Valencia race winner Noriyuki Haga, who continued his run of poor qualifying performances down in 15th.

Yamaha have also put themselves on the back foot with Cal Crutchlow - a pole winner at Portimao and Valencia - and James Toseland ninth and tenth, the latter having ended his chances to progress with a high-speed off on his quickest lap.

Unable to mirror his team-mate's performance, Ruben Xaus suffered a fall late on in SP2 but held onto 12th, ahead of Sylvain Guintoli, Tom Sykes, Haga and Max Neukirchner.

Further back, Luca Scassa, Lorenzo Lanzi, Chris Vermeulen and Broc Parkes failed to go beyond SP3, Vermeulen lucky not to do his knee any more damage after high-siding from his Kawasaki.