Ben Spies made a dream start to life in the FIM Superbike World Championship as the Yamaha rookie claimed pole position for the first round of the 2009 season at Phillip Island.
The 24-year-old Texan posted a time of one minute 31.069 seconds on his debut at the Australian track to take top spot at the end of the new knockout Superpole session, edging veteran Italian Max Biaggi into second place on the new Aprilia.
Jonathan Rea was another rider to enjoy an impressive full-time debut in the top echelon of Superbike racing as he claimed third place for Hannspree Ten Kate Honda, while Czech rider Jakub Smrz (Ducati) completed the front row.
"The Superpole was really good, there was a lot of anticipation, a lot of nerves inside the pit box to get the first pole of the year," said Spies. "It's going to be hard on Sunday, with seven or eight guys up front and the real race will start eight laps from the end.
"Luckily we have a good starting spot, that's all that matters and hopefully we can be there at the end."
Biaggi admitted he was delighted to put on a front-row performance for the returning Aprilia team, who are back in Superbike racing after a seven-year absence.
"It's a big sensation for me to come back after so many years to Aprilia with this new project, the bike is good already," he said.
"We still have to see which is the best way to go but for now qualifying was very good and exciting."
The new knockout formula claimed a high-profile victim in Japanese ace Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), who will line up 13th after falling in the second elimination phase along with compatriots Ryuichi Kiyonari, Shinya Nakano and Yukio Kagayama, while Suzuki's Max Neukirchner also disappointed with 14th on the starting grid.
Haga's team-mate Michel Fabrizio fared better and will head-up row two, where he will be joined by Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda), Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Regis Laconi (DFX Ducati).