It was a close run thing, but Tom Sykes fought off a late challenge from Eugene Laverty to take the 16th pole position of his World Superbike career at Portimao on Saturday.

His pole run now stretches back to the second round at Aragon in April, his fifth in a row. The Yorkshireman was made to work for it and Laverty's late surge saw him miss out by a mere thousandth of a second.

The front two were both under Sykes' pole position time from 2012, making them the fastest two wheeled laps of the 2.7-mile circuit. Jonathan Rea took a hard fought third, his first front row start since round three at Assen.

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The second session was curtailed early because of rain falling around the circuit. A final wet session of twenty minutes was declared soon after, although the rain had ceased and the track was dry as riders left pit lane.

Rea, Laverty and Guintoli provisionally instated themselves on the front row before the riders returned to the pits for new tyres. It was then Sykes who took the initiative and bettered his pole time from last year before Laverty responded with two minutes to spare.

The second row will consist of Melandri, Guintoli and Baz while Carlos Checa took his best qualifying result since Phillip Island in seventh. He was followed by Cluzel, Fabrizio and teammate Ayrton Badovini.

Davide Giugliano didn't help his chances by crashing on his out lap for the final wet session. The Italian lost the front of his Aprilia at low speed and ended a frustrating eleventh.

Chaz Davies efforts were hampered by a huge spill during Saturday afternoon's free practice. The Welshman injured his right elbow in the fall and will start from the back of the fourth row in twelfth.

Leon Camier was surprisingly amongst the first to be axed from the first session, after late flying laps from Cluzel, Davies and Checa demoted him to 13th.

Leon Haslam's slow recovery from his Assen leg break prevented him qualifying higher than 14th and Max Neukirchner will start from the back of the fifth row.

By Neil Morrison