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Eugene Laverty will start on a World Superbike Championship pole position for the first time in his career at Silverstone after reacting best to a controversial decision by race direction to restart the final phase of qualifying in changeable conditions.

The regular eight-minute SP3 pole session had begun as planned, with Tom Sykes and Loris Baz seemingly on course for a historic Kawasaki 1-2 after both swept beneath John Hopkins' previous lap record.

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However, with rain in the air, just as Sykes crossed the line to finish his lap - the last of the eight competing riders to do so - the red flag was immediately deployed and the session stopped.

What followed was immense confusion as organisers declared a Wet Superpole, which meant previous lap times would be cancelled in favour of an entirely new 20-minute long session. Justified by officials because not enough of the SP3 session had been completed for it to be declared a result, it meant Sykes and Baz were forced to do it all over again.

Heading back out on track, Baz's move to get to the front of the pack would prove a savvy one as he crossed the line first, the riders behind feeling the worst of the conditions as the drizzle increased. It meant Baz would stand fastest, ahead of Rea and Camier, while Tom Sykes at the back of the pack would give up on his effort as the rain worsened.

As such, with twelve minutes on the clock remaining, it seemed Baz was on course to celebrate his first-ever pole position, but with the rain having stopped and the humid conditions drying the circuit again, the bikes would be wheeled out for a last gasp dash for pole.

With each rider getting just one shot at a fast lap, it would come down to whom could hook up a lap good enough to better Baz - whose effort was 1.5secs down on what he had set in the original SP3 session.

Inevitably, timing screens would show several riders posting fastest splits, but it was Laverty that would keep it neat enough to come away with the fastest time, the Irishman finally breaking his pole position duck in the most bizarre circumstances.

Behind him, Carlos Checa returned Ducati to the front row of the grid on the Alstare machine, two tenths behind Laverty, while Jonathan Rea sneaked into third place on the Pata Honda.

A disappointing session for Kawasaki in the end having been so fast in optimal conditions, Baz would be forced to settle for fourth place, with Sykes - who was furious with the decision to restart SP3 - left in fifth place.

Even so, Sykes did fare better than key title rivals Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri, the former stopping on track with a technical issue to be left down in eighth place, while the latter is down in 15th after his bike expired in SP1 as a legacy of his crash in FP2 earlier today.

Elsewhere, Davide Giugliano may be a doubt for the races after a crash at the end of SP2. The Italian, who started on pole position in Russia, appeared to twist his ankle as he came down and was stretchered off circuit for checks at the medical centre.