Colin Turkington topped British Touring Car Championship qualifying at Knockhill, but Sam Tordoff will start the first race from pole position.
In a sensational session in which the order changed constantly, Turkington's WSR BMW was quiet in the early stages.
But the championship leader moved to the front just after half distance with a 52.076-second lap.
He then added another three laps good enough to top the times, culminating in a 51.705s.
"It was a fantastic lap," said Turkington. "Those are really pleasing when you get three purple [fastest] sectors."
But he will start ninth thanks to a penalty from a clash with Matt Neal at Snetterton.
Tordoff, whose best effort was almost half a second slower than Turkington, will thus start from pole in his Triple Eight MG6 (pictured below).
Last year's Knockhill polesitter Rob Austin is provisionally third fastest, and second on the grid.
He set a new personal best to go fifth in the closing moments, lost it due to a track limits transgression, then improved gain just as Lea Wood went off and the chequered flag flew.
The spectacular Andrew Jordan was next in Eurotech's Honda Civic. The reigning champion had led a Honda 1-2-3 early on, before the red flags flew thanks to an off by Chris Stockton. Although Jordan improved later, he fell to fourth.
The Honda Civic Tourers of Gordon Shedden and Neal were fifth and sixth, having both led the way earlier on. Shedden knocked a mirror off on the new chicane barrier and went off at Scotsman amid his efforts to improve.
Jason Plato's MG was seventh fastest, while Mat Jackson again led the Motorbase Ford Focus attack just behind.
Rob Collard was ninth in the second WSR BMW, but he will have to start at the back thanks to a penalty for clashes earlier in the season.
Despite Turkington's pace advantage, the top 16 cars were covered by less than a second.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Colin Turkington WSR BMW 51.705s*
2. Sam Tordoff MG 52.169s +0.464s
3. Rob Austin RAR Audi 52.206s +0.501s
4. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Honda 52.224s +0.519s
5. Gordon Shedden Honda 52.294s +0.589s
6. Matt Neal Honda 52.321s +0.616s
7. Jason Plato MG 52.341s +0.636s
8. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 52.373s +0.668s
9. Rob Collard WSR BMW 52.397s +0.692s**
10. Nick Foster WSR BMW 52.466s +0.761s
11. Glynn Geddie UA Toyota 52.494s +0.789s
12. Hunter Abbott RAR Audi 52.511s +0.806s
13. Marc Hynes MG 52.548s +0.843s
14. Tom Ingram Speedworks Toyota 52.573s +0.868s
15. Alain Menu BMR VW 52.580s +0.875s
16. Dave Newsham AmD Ford 52.622s +0.917s
17. Aron Smith BMR VW 52.733s +1.028s
18. Adam Morgan Ciceley Mercedes 52.741s +1.036s
19. Fabrizio Giovanardi Motorbase Ford 52.847s +1.142s
20. Jack Goff BMR VW 52.952s +1.247s
21. Aiden Moffat Moffat Chevrolet 53.032s +1.327s
22. Warren Scott BMR VW 53.131s +1.426s
23. Martin Depper Eurotech Honda 53.152s +1.447s
24. Jack Clarke Motorbase Ford 53.181s +1.476s
25. James Cole UA Toyota 53.245s +1.540s
26. Lea Wood Houseman Toyota 53.271s +1.566s
27. Robb Holland Rotek Audi 53.365s +1.660s
28. Daniel Welch Welch Proton 53.741s +2.036s
29. Simon Belcher Handy Toyota 54.613s +2.908s
30. Ollie Jackson Welch Proton 55.408s +3.703s
31. Chris Stockton BTC Chevrolet 1m07.135s +15.430s
* Will take eight-place grid penalty
** Will drop to back of grid with penalty