Cal Crutchlow will start his final World Superbike Championship races at Magny-Cours from the position he has become best accustomed too this season, the Yamaha rider securing a sixth pole.

The Briton has won only two races this year, but has frequently been the star of Saturday afternoon, the Yamaha Sterilgarda rider mastering the French circuit to ensure he will start nearly half of the season's races from the top spot.

Coming on the weekend he bids farewell to World Superbikes ahead of his switch to MotoGP, Crutchlow broke the lap record with a 1min 37.699secs - set by the man he replaces at Tech 3 Yamaha Ben Spies.

As has been the case on numerous occasions this year, Crutchlow favoured a low profile heading into Superpole, showing his hand for the first time with a rapid effort in SP2 before pulling off a new record during the shootout.

Still, he didn't command a significant advantage over the chasing pack, with Sylvain Guintoli producing his best qualifying performance yet on home soil, less than a tenth adrift in second place.

A small boost for Suzuki - who will slim to a single Alstare entry in 2011 -, it will also do Guintoli, who is yet to achieve a WSBK podium, a few favours in his battle for seventh in the standings with James Toseland, Michel Fabrizio and Troy Corser.

Jakub Smrz put up a stern challenge in third position too, the B&G Aprilia rider lighting up the individual sectors but being unable to string a full lap together to usurp either Crutchlow or Guintoli.

The front row was completed by champion Max Biaggi, who hinted at a pole challenge earlier on in the session before settling for an eventual fourth. He might have fancied his chances of setting a better lap, but was embroiled in an interesting battle for track position with Crutchlow during the closing stages of the session.

Elsewhere in the top eight, Fabrizio was fifth fastest, ahead of Jonathan Rea, the Ten Kate Honda rider overcoming the pain in his fractured collarbone to qualify an impressive sixth, ahead of Carlos Checa and Noriyuki Haga.

Further back, there was disappointment for BMW as they failed to get one of their bikes into the top eight, Troy Corser leading its charge in ninth, while imminent employee Leon Haslam was dumped out of contention in tenth.

Imola pole sitter Tom Sykes couldn't repeat his heroics this time, though he was faster than Shane Byrne and Toseland, who was well adrift of pole sitting team-mate Crutchlow back in a lowly 15th position.