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Michael van der Mark will start from the front of a World Superbike grid for the first time in his career after powering to a maiden pole position at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand.

The Dutchman, a double podium winner at the season opener in Australia and overnight pace setter, established himself at the head of the field during the first flurry of laps, but despite being challenged during the all-important soft rubber second stint, two even faster 'red' laps simply took him further out front.

The performance marks van der Mark's much anticipated maiden pole position to further underline the upturn in pace from the Honda team over the winter and set himself up for a potential first win challenge. Furthermore, the result is the first Honda pole since Jonathan Rea at Imola in 2014.

Joining him on the front row for the two races will be the Kawasakis of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, the pair posting identical lap times of 1min 33.671secs, albeit with the championship leader getting the nod in second by virtue of count-back.

Despite having to almost physically barge his dawdling team-mate Davide Giugliano out of the way on one of his laps, Chaz Davies' fourth place marks a significant upturn in pace for the Welshman on a weekend he has largely struggled on thus far.

Sylvain Guintoli rounds out the top five for the Yamaha team ahead of Giugliano and Alex Lowes, while Nicky Hayden and the Althea BMWs of Markus Reiterberger and Jordi Torres complete the top ten.

Progressing through SP1 but unable to get into the top ten, Karel Abraham will nonetheless start a fine 11th, while stand-in Matteo Baiocco was an impressive 12th on the VFT Ducati, the family-run team making its WSBK debut this weekend, albeit without its injured rider Fabio Menghi.

Outside the top four rows, Josh Brookes and Leon Camier would disappoint in 13th and 14th, along with Xavi Fores in 16th, though the Spaniard is still recovering from a knee injury.