Max Biaggi has taken his second World Superbike Championship pole position of the season after fending off title rivals Marco Melandri and Carlos Checa at Brno.
The Italian, who commands an exceptional record around the undulating Czech circuit, has been amongst the front runners throughout the weekend, but faced tough competition for pole position.
Indeed, Biaggi maintained a meagre profile through the Superpole knockout phases, emerging fourth fastest at the end of SP1 and SP2. However, the reigning champion struck when it mattered, pumping in a 1min 58.580secs lap at his first attempt during the grid-deciding SP3.
Though half a second down on Cal Crutchlow's pole winning time from last season, Biaggi was still a comfortable three tenths faster than Melandri. Furthermore, Biaggi produced two laps during SP3 that would have been good enough for pole position.
An exciting set up for the races, all three title contenders line-up on the front row, with Melandri and series leader Checa assuming second and third positions alongside Biaggi. With Eugene Laverty completing the front row in fourth place, it means the top four in the championship standings will start up at the head of the grid.
Local favourite Jakub Smrz is well placed to better a previous best at Brno of sixth place after qualifying in fifth on the Effenbert-Liberty Ducati, ahead of Michel Fabrizio, who will no doubt be a threat having overcome his well-publicised qualifying hoodoo in sixth position.
Leon Camier will start a satisfying seventh, the Briton suffering another fall during SP1 but dusting himself off to not only make it into SP2, but also to SP3. He will be joined on the second row by Kawasaki's Tom Sykes, whose late effort in SP2 hauled him up into the top eight.
Missing out on the chance to challenge for pole position, Ayrton Badovini starts in ninth place as the highest-placed BMW rider once again. Indeed, the privateer will start a row ahead of Leon Haslam on the factory S1000RR, the Briton being dumped out of SP1 for the second race in succession to start 13th.
Joining Badovini on row three will be Sylvain Guintoli, the impressive Mark Aitchison – who made it through to SP2 once again – and Maxime Berger.
As well as Haslam, Noriyuki Haga was a high-profile loser in SP1, the Japanese rider starting in 14th place, just ahead of Lorenzo Lanzi and Matteo Baiocco.