Eugene Laverty had to settle for second place on the grid as Tom Sykes took his fifth straight pole position by the slenderest of margins for the sixth round of the Superbike World Championship at Portimao in Portugal.
Kawasaki rider Sykes is brimming with confidence after a double win last time out at Donington that moved him to within four points of the championship lead.
He maintained his excellent form in a Superpole session which was affected by rain, causing the second and third parts to be run as one 20-minute period.
Sykes eventually prevailed by just one thousandth of a second from the Aprilia of Laverty.
County Antrim native Jonathan Rea made up the top three on his Pata Honda, although he may have been disappointed after looking the class of the field for much of the weekend.
Marco Melandri was fourth on the first of the BMW Motorrad Goldbet machines, with championship leader Sylvain Guintoli - battling to stave off Sykes' charge - in fifth.
Loris Baz was an excellent sixth on the second Kawasaki while Spanish veteran Carlos Checa gave Alstare Ducati some comfort after a woeful start to the season with seventh spot.
Jules Cluzel, Michel Fabrizio and Ayrton Badovini rounded out the top 10, with Welshman Chaz Davies back in 12th.
It was a difficult day for Leon Camier and Leon Haslam as they missed out on the final part of qualifying after only managing 13th and 14th fastest times respectively.
Haslam is riding through the pain barrier as he continues to recover from the broken leg he suffered at Assen.