Tom Sykes pipped Kawasaki team-mate Jonathan Rea to pole for the first race of the US World Superbike round later today, with Chaz Davies completing the front row.
After a short delay to the start of the second 15-minute session, Rea led the way on the initial race tyre runs, the Northern Irishman underneath the race lap record with a 1m23.114s.
Leaving it late, Rea, Sykes and Davies took to the 2.2-mile Laguna Seca for their qualifying tyre runs in close quarters.
Sykes was the first of the trio to post a time, the Yorkshireman clocking a 1m22.476s, with Rea close behind on a 1m22.566s.
Davies was the last of the three to leave pit lane, and as such only got one lap on the qualifying tyre. The Ducati rider, still in some discomfort from the back fracture he sustained at Misano, went third quickest with a 1m22.883s.
Sykes was set to further improve on his final lap, but lost time in the final sector and came under threat from Rea.
However, the championship leader ran wide at the bottom of the Corkscrew, and this stopped him from denying Sykes his 41st career pole position and his third of the 2017 season.
Marco Melandri took the second Aruba.it Ducati to fourth, pipping Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty by two tenths of a second. Leandro Mercado came through SP1 to secure his best qualifying of the year in sixth.
Seventh-placed Xavi Fores headed Alex Lowes, who has been suffering all weekend with the front-end of his Pata Yamaha.
Leon Camier took his MV Agusta to ninth, with Lorenzo Savadori completing the top 10 having come through SP1. Jordi Torres and Alex De Angelis rounded out the top 12.
Michael van der Mark has struggled with similar front-end issues to team-mate Lowes, and fell out of qualifying in the closing stages of SP1 when he was pipped by Savadori and Mercado.
The Dutchman’s 1m24.250s kept him in 13th – his worst qualifying result of the season – though only just, with Raffele De Rosa a few hundredths adrift in 14th ahead of Roman Ramos.
Randy Krummenacher will start 16th for his first WorldSBK outing at Laguna Seca, the Swiss rider edging 2013 MotoGP polesitter Stefan Bradl and his Honda team-mate Jake Gagne.
Jakub Smrz took the Guandalini YZF-R1 to 19th in his first qualifying replacing the ousted Ricardo Russo. The Czech British Superbike star edged the Pedercini pair of Ayrton Badovini and Ondrej Jezek by two and five tenths, respectively.