Carlos Checa maintained his perfect 2011 qualifying record at Assen by cruising to another comfortable pole position, ahead of Jakub Smrz and Eugene Laverty.

Having maintained a fairly low profile during free practice and provisional qualifying, Checa showed his hand during the crucial shootout phase as he pumped in two immaculate laps to put him well out of reach of his rivals.

An close session during the knockout phases that would see mere hundredths make the difference between the front and the mid-field, Checa's reservation of his prime tyres during the final phase was crucial to his charge.

A third pole position in three attempts so far this year, the series leader would eventually emerge three tenths up on Jakub Smrz, who endured an eventful session that almost saw him pushed out in Q1.

The Czech rider had misjudged his return to the circuit during the latter stages of Q1, leaving him just a few seconds shy of starting his final lap in time for the chequered flag. With Michel Fabrizio looking on course to demote him with the last lap of the session, Smrz was able to breathe a sigh of relief when the Italian missed out by only two hundredths.

Much like Checa, third place man Eugene Laverty left his best until it mattered having settled in the mid-field during free practice, the Irishman knocking chucks off his best time so far this weekend to claim a front row start.

Noriyuki Haga completes the front row as the top Aprilia rider having shone throughout the three phases, ahead of 2010 double winner Jonathan Rea, the Q2 pace setter ending up almost a second off pole.

Max Biaggi starts in sixth position, ahead of Tom Sykes, the Kawasaki man getting onto the front two rows again, and Marco Melandri, the Italian looking on course to join Yamaha team-mate Laverty towards the front when he crashed in sector three.

Those to fall victim of the tight lap times included Leon Camier, who will start in ninth position and also BMW riders Troy Corser and Leon Haslam, who would emerge tenth and 12th. Corser's tenth place is particularly galling as he looked on course for a comfortable SP3 position when he lost almost half a second in the final two bends.

Prior to that, Q1 would see Fabrizio eliminated early after his last gasp effort saw him fall just short of the time he needed to progress further. He was joined in the drop zone by Ruben Xaus, Sylvain Guintoli and Ayrton Badovini, who will start 14th, 15th and 16th respectively.