Carlos Checa has taken his fourth World Superbike pole position of the season at Miller Motorsports Park after a last gasp lap sneaked him ahead of Jakub Smrz in the dying moments of the session.

Though the Spaniard had been the favourite to secure the top spot following his dominant turn during FP1 and Q1, the arrival of rain proved something of a leveller throughout the three qualifying phases.

Nonetheless, the battle for pole position would eventually come down to Checa and Smrz, the pair capitalising on the improving track conditions to trade fastest laps with every lap attempt. As it happens, Smrz's effort of 1min 58.390secs looked good enough to secure a second-career pole position as Checa fell short in three of the four sectors.

However, a determined push in the final sector would prove crucial for Checa, the Althea Ducati man denying his Effenbert-Liberty counterpart by less than a tenth of a second.

As lap times improved with every revolution, those crossing the line last fared better on the timesheets, with Marco Melandri pushing up into third position for his first front row start in Superbikes.

Monza double winner Eugene Laverty made it two Yamahas on the front row in fourth after another fine qualifying performance, the Irishman getting the chance to start up top for the third race in succession.

Sylvain Guintoli made his first appearance inside the top eight shootout since the Phillip Island season opener, the Frenchman completing a good day for Effenbert-Liberty Ducati by claiming fifth on the grid.

Troy Corser starts in sixth place, the Australian getting somewhat bottled up behind Max Biaggi during the final qualifying phase but holding on to out-qualify the Italian.

Indeed, the reigning champion endured a rather frustrating SP3 session as he ran off track on his final flying lap, Biaggi rather clumsily dropping the RSV-4 at low speed as he struggled to find grip on the very muddy infield.

Ayrton Badovini joins him on the second row, the impressive Italian cracking SP3 for the first time in his career aboard the satellite BMW Italia.

Elsewhere, there was disappointment for the British contingent as Tom Sykes bowed out of SP2 in tenth place, while Leon Camier and Leon Haslam were in the wars in 11th and 12th.

Camier had looked a favourite for pole position having topped both of the day's wet sessions, but a dramatic high-side in SP1 left him on the back foot. Though he recovered to the pit lane to jump on his spare bike, it was only good enough to scrape into SP2, before settling for 11th. Haslam, meanwhile, took a tumble to leave himself in 12th.

Jonathan Rea, who tested at Miller Motorsports Park prior to this event, was also left disappointed in 13th after being bumped down towards the end of SP1, the Castrol Honda rider joined by his team-mate Ruben Xaus and Monza podium winner Michel Fabrizio.



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