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Tom Sykes has continued his stunning 2012 qualifying form by claiming an astonishing sixth Superpole in eight attempts at Motorland Aragon, the Briton destroying the existing lap record by seven tenths of a second.

The Kawasaki rider has been in imperious form over a single lap so far this season, but while few doubted he had the pace for the front row this weekend, pre-SP3 form suggested pole position would be disputed by Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri.

Indeed, Melandri came into the top eight shootout having once again lowered the lap record in SP2, but that new benchmark of 1min 57.207 was no contest for Sykes's exceptional effort of 1min 56.552secs.

Slashing seven tenths off that provisional marker, the time is almost a second faster than the lap record coming into the weekend.

The performance subsequently left his rivals floundering, with second place Biaggi lapping almost identically in SP2 and SP3, but falling a considerable seven tenths short of the ZX-10R.

Melandri, meanwhile, couldn't deliver when it mattered, the Italian dropping away at the crucial point in SP3 to set a time of 1min 57.784secs. Not only was that five tenths down on what he managed just 20mins earlier, it would drop him off the front row in fifth position.

Instead, Eugene Laverty will start at the head of the grid for the first time this season, the Irishman running Biaggi close to qualify in third, while Leon Haslam is alongside him, the Briton emerging as BMW's surprise front runner having played second fiddle to Melandri throughout the weekend thus far.

Having taken time getting to grips with the Spanish circuit during practice, Aragon rookie Jonathan Rea responded with a fine run to sixth position on the grid, the Northern Irishman out-qualifying Carlos Checa on the Althea Ducati.

Reaching SP3 for the first time this season, Chaz Davies starts eighth on the ParkinGO MTC Aprilia, though the Welshman will rue running off the circuit on his first flying lap having shown front row pace in SP1 and SP2.

Missing the top SP2 cut, Sylvain Guintoli and Davide Giugliano were punished for running off track as they settled for ninth and 11th respectively, the pair being split by Ayrton Badovini's BMW Italia, while Jakub Smrz takes up a spot on the outside of the row in 12th.

Behind them, Superpole proved a disappointment for Leon Camier, the Suzuki rider managing just 14th on the grid, where he will share row four with Michel Fabrizio, Loris Baz and Lorenzo Zanetti.