Michael Rutter smashed over a second off the Silverstone International circuit lap record to grab pole start for the double race opening round of the British Superbike championship.

The 30 year old Leicestershire rider powered the HM Plant Honda Fireblade to a 1m 26.135s lap, some 1.3 seconds inside the record, at an average speed of 92.49mph in dramatic finale to the session.

"Getting pole is a great feeling - everything was new for me, but the bike is great, and we have a good set-up for the races and good tyres, so I am feeling confident," smiled Rutter as he enjoyed an action replay of his pole start of the corresponding race of last year at the Northamptonshire circuit.

Rutter put in his flying lap in the final minute to eclipse Sean Emmett, making his debut with the MonsterMob Ducati team, by a little over half a second, but the Londoner was none too disappointed. "I always knew that it would be a close call and it will be throughout the season.

"Michael always qualifies well here, but I am pleased with the way things have worked out. The bike feels good, all is good for the races, and we only used a couple of our qualifiers during the session, concentrating on getting the right race rubber. I want to get a solid start here and will be disappointed not to get at least a victory and a top three finish."

Emmett will have a fight on his hands. Rutter, whose qualifying brilliance came under the eagle eyes of the heriarchy of the Honda Racing Division, who had flown in specially to check out the factory backed team's progress, is determined that this will be his year for the title.

That too is the sentiment of the former twice champion John Reynolds, riding Rizla Suzuki, third on the leaderboard, and a third of a second
down. He was disappointed. "It was hard work out there."

Series newcomer Ryuichi Kiyonari, riding the Honda Fireblade, completes the front row of the grid.



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