Kiyonari had been fastest in yesterday's two free practice sessions and this morning's first official qualifying period. However, his nearest challenger Leon Haslam took the initiative in the closing stages of this afternoon's final session to deny the 22-year-old Japanese star the first pole position of the 2005 season.
Rutter had also been in a provisional front row starting position, but slipped down the running order in a thrilling final five-minute dash to the chequered flag. The 31-year-old runner-up in last year's championship was unable to respond and so will start tomorrow's races in unfamiliar territory on the second row of the grid.
Michael Rutter: "The pace was hot out there today and I'm frustrated not to have qualified on the front row. There was a lot of traffic in the second qualifying period and the conditions didn't improve as much as we would have hoped between sessions. There's very little between the top eight riders, so I'm not that worried about tomorrow's races. I've got a good set-up on the HM Plant Honda Racing CBR1000RR Fireblade and I'm confident that I can make up the difference over race distance."
Ryuichi Kiyonari: "I found Brands Hatch to be one of the most difficult tracks to learn last season. However, this year I have arrived here with a good set-up and worked very hard with HM Plant Honda Racing to find the best settings for race distance. My lap times have improved a lot from last year, but I'm not too confident for the races. There are a lot of fast riders on this circuit and so I'll just have to see if I can get a good start from the front row – that will determine how my race goes."
Qualifying: 1. L Haslam (Ducati) 45.784; 2. R. Kiyonari (HM Plant Honda Racing) 45.827; 3. S. Smart (Suzuki) 45.939; 4. S. Emmett (Yamaha) 46.010; 5. G. Lavilla (Ducati) 46.055; 6. M. Rutter (HM Plant Honda Racing) 46.061; 7. G. Richards (Kawasaki) 46.064; 8. K. Harris (Honda-Racing.co.uk) 46.115; 9. J. McWilliams (Honda) 46.286; 10. G. Mason (Honda) 46.328