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Tom Sykes powered to his 29th World Superbike career pole position at Jerez as a last-gasp lap was good enough to push Jonathan Rea back to second.
The 2013 world champion's final time of 1m 40.292s was six thousandths of a second under Loris Baz's pole position record and came just moments after Rea appeared to have done enough for the top spot.
Niccolò Canepa maintained his impressive speed in Andalusia as he used a Rea-shaped tow to claim the third best time for his first front row appearance in 2015. The Italian crashed his Althea Ducati earlier in the day and was visibly delighted to turn his fortunes around in the afternoon.
Undoubtedly the biggest improver of the day however was Michael van der Mark, who will head the second row of the grid after qualifying through SP1. The Dutchman was a disappointing twelfth in FP3 but showed much improved pace on qualifying tyres in the afternoon.
The reigning World Supersport champion initially used Rea's tow in the first run of the 15-minute dash, the pair exchanging a friendly thumbs up soon after, but van der Mark's best time came with no helping hand.
Three times a crasher this weekend, Jordi Torres placed fifth in qualifying at his second home race of the season, just ahead of Chaz Davies in sixth.
Davies insisted on Friday that he was “playing the long game” with regards to Sunday's race but will have his work cut out starting from sixth as he looks to consolidate his second place in the standings.
Alex Lowes was ninth just a day after setting the fastest FP2 time, behind the Italian duo of Michele Pirro and Matteo Baiocco. A week after claiming an impressive second row spot in the MotoGP round at Misano, Pirro again looked good in qualifying trim.
Despite a relatively strong weekend, Leon Haslam was a disappointing eleventh and will start next to reigning world champion Sylvain Guintoli.
David Salom, another to qualify through Q1, failed to set a time in the second 15-minute session after he fell at turn one. Although the Spaniard was ok, his crew didn't have enough time to repair his Pedercini Kawasaki.