MG driver Jason Plato qualified on pole for Sunday's first British Touring Car race at Oulton Park after a hard-fought session.
With the track drying but rain threatening, there was a flurry of activity early on. WSR BMW drivers Tom Onslow-Cole and Rob Collard, Gordan Sheddon (Honda), Andrew Jordan (Eurotech) and Plato all held pole at one time or another in the early stages.
Plato had a big moment at Cascades and reigning champion Matt Neal seemed to have secured pole for Honda when he set a time of 1m26.949s to open up a gap of half a second over the field.
Water on the track at Cascades caught out several drivers, but with just 30 seconds to go Plato's works MG snatched pole with a 1m26.872s.
"We put ourselves under a bit of pressure - I made a mistake on my first run at Lodge, then ran out of talent on the exit of Cascades," said Plato. "We had one more run so I'm really pleased with that."
Collard and Jordan also both put in strong final laps, but a couple of minor errors limited the BMW to third, while traffic held Jordan to fourth, less than 0.2s slower than Plato.
Shedden ended up fifth, just ahead of Onslow-Cole, while Frank Wrathall's Dynojet Toyota Avensis jumped up the timesheets late on to secure seventh.
Daniel Welch recorded his best BTCC qualifying with eighth in his Proton.
Like Wrathall, Dave Newsham (ES Vauxhall) seemed to struggle for much of the session, but finally moved up to ninth in the closing moments.
Motorbase managed to fix Mat Jackson's Ford Focus after its practice crash and he was immediately a top-six contender when he came out. But an air lock in the cooling system curtailed his running and left him 10th by the end of the session.
Former single-seater racer Will Bratt qualified 18th for his BTCC debut in Rob Austin Racing's Audi A4.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Jason Plato MG 1m26.872s 2. Matt Neal Honda 1m26.949s + 0.077s 3. Rob Collard WSR BMW 1m26.989s + 0.117s 4. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Honda 1m27.051s + 0.179s 5. Gordon Shedden Honda 1m27.457s + 0.585s 6. Tom Onslow-Cole WSR BMW 1m27.503s + 0.631s 7. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota 1m27.659s + 0.787s 8. Daniel Welch Welch Proton 1m27.914s + 1.042s 9. Dave Newsham ES Vauxhall 1m27.969s + 1.097s 10. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 1m28.033s + 1.161s 11. Aron Smith Motorbase Ford 1m28.093s + 1.221s 12. Andy Neate MG 1m28.125s + 1.253s 13. Nick Foster WSR BMW 1m28.155s + 1.283s 14. Lea Wood Central Vauxhall 1m28.178s + 1.306s 15. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford 1m28.241s + 1.369s 16. Adam Morgan Speedworks Toyota 1m28.357s + 1.485s 17. Tony Gilham Gilham Honda 1m28.521s + 1.649s 18. Will Bratt Austin Audi 1m28.850s + 1.978s 19. Jeff Smith Eurotech Honda 1m28.991s + 2.119s 20. Ollie Jackson AmD Volkswagen 1m29.572s + 2.700s 21. Chris James ES Vauxhall 1m29.657s + 2.785s 22. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota 1m31.689s + 4.817s