Reigning British Touring Car champion Matt Neal was quickest in the first free practice session for the Brands Hatch season finale.
The NGTC Honda Civics of Gordon Shedden and Andrew Jordan, running with more turbo boost than they have so far in 2012, set the early pace.
Eurotech driver Jordan topped the timesheets for much of the damp session before Shedden recorded a 1m44.996s lap heading into the final 10 minutes.
Then reigning champion Neal, who had been in the top four throughout the session, put in a charge in the closing moments.
He set a time of 1m44.697s to go top, then improved to 1m44.510s, and also set a third time quicker than anyone else.
Behind the works Hondas, Jordan's earlier time was good enough for third.
Jason Plato's works MG6 was fourth, over a second behind Neal, meaning that the four title contenders were in the top four.
Best of the rest was Will Bratt in his Rob Austin Audi, showing much improved performance over recent outings.
Mat Jackson completed the all-NGTC top six with Motorbase's Ford Focus, while Dave Newsham (ES Racing Vauxhall Vectra) was the top S2000 runner in seventh.
Dan Welch improved right as the flag came out to go eighth in his Proton.
BTCC rookie Aaron Williamson was 18th in Tony Gilham's S2000 Honda Civic.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Matt Neal Honda 1m44.510s 2. Gordon Shedden Honda 1m44.996s + 0.486s 3. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Honda 1m45.491s + 0.981s 4. Jason Plato MG 1m45.710s + 1.200s 5. Will Bratt Austin Audi 1m45.804s + 1.294s 6. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 1m46.207s + 1.697s 7. Dave Newsham ES Vauxhall 1m46.241s + 1.731s 8. Daniel Welch Welch Proton 1m46.289s + 1.779s 9. Aron Smith Motorbase Ford 1m46.554s + 2.044s 10. Ollie Jackson AmD Volkswagen 1m46.595s + 2.085s 11. Chris James ES Vauxhall 1m46.950s + 2.440s 12. Rob Austin Austin Audi 1m47.121s + 2.611s 13. Rob Collard WSR BMW 1m47.356s + 2.846s 14. Andy Neate MG 1m47.609s + 3.099s 15. Nick Foster WSR BMW 1m47.688s + 3.178s 16. Lea Wood Wood Vauxhall 1m47.789s + 3.279s 17. Adam Morgan Speedworks Toyota 1m48.029s + 3.519s 18. Aaron Williamson HARD Civic 1m48.603s + 4.093s 19. Jeff Smith Eurotech Honda 1m48.936s + 4.426s 20. Tony Hughes Speedworks Toyota 1m49.377s + 4.867s 21. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford 1m54.616s + 10.106s 22. Tom Onslow-Cole WSR BMW 1m59.455s + 14.945s 23. Frank Wrathall Dynojet Toyota - - 24. Tony Gilham Thorney Vauxhall - -