Yamaha's Ben Spies saved his very best for the bitter end at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal today and the result of that effort gives him a clear advantage of his championship rival Noriyuki Haga heading into tomorrow's finale - the two World Superbike races that will decide the World Championship.For today, however, it's advantage Spies as the Texan got faster and faster throughout qualifying and put in his best lap - a 1:42.412 - right at the end of Superpole 3 to earn pole position for tomorrow's races. Combine that with the fact that Ducati Xerox's Haga didn't make it out of Superpole 2 and will start the races from the third row and you can see why Spies has a definite edge going into battle tomorrow. The pole was Spies's 11th in 14 races.Spies best lap in Superpole came at the end, his 1:42.412 with just two minutes to go in the session ending up as the fastest lap turned in all weekend and a lap that put him .584 of a second ahead of the privateer Ducati of Shane Byrne, the Brit's 1:42.996 putting him second on the front row. Byrne had ended Superpole 1 in fourth, stayed fourth for Superpole 2 and then made his jump to second in Superpole 3.Ducati Xerox's Michel Fabrizio improved from eighth in Superpole 2 to third fastest in Superpole 3 and he will join Spies, Byrne and fourth fastest qualifier Jonathan Rea on the front row. Rea had led qualifying going into Superpole and he led the first portion of Superpole, dropping to second behind Spies in Superpole 2 and dropping another two spots in the final session.Row two will be led by Max Biaggi on the factory Aprilia and he'll be joined there by Fonsi Nieto, Stiggy Honda's Leon Haslam and the factory BMW of Troy Corser, who was a crasher in Superpole 3.The big story of the day was the absense of Haga in that third Superpole session. In Superpole 2 it was clear that Haga was having troubles with rear grip and a front-end pushy. He came in for a new qualifier, but only got one clear lap and he would finish 10th - one of the unlucky eight who didn't make the final cut.Jakub Smrz, who had been near the top of the time sheets all weekend, also missed out. Ditto for Sylvain Guintoli, Carlos Checa, Leon Camier and Yukio Kagayama.

Superpole

1.                  Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1:42.412

2.                  Shane Byrne (Ducati) 1:42.996

3.                  Michael Fabrizio (Ducati) 1:43.015

4.                  Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1:43.126

5.                  Max Biaggi (Aprilia) 1:43.526

6.                  Fonsi Nieto (Ducati) 1:43.553

7.                  Leon Haslam (Honda) 1:43.553

8.                  Troy Corser (BMW) 1:44.719

9.                  Jakub Smrz (Ducati)

10.                  Noriyuki Haga (Ducati)

World Superbike Headlines

By Cycle News Staff

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