Dave Newsham topped the British Touring Car media day test at Silverstone on Monday.
Newsham drove BMW and SEAT machinery for Geoff Steel Racing and Special Tuning Racing in his rookie BTCC season last year. He has switched to Team ES Racing for 2012 and topped the test for much of the day with his turbocharged Vauxhall Vectra.
The former Renault Clio Cup champion's best time of 58.965s around the National layout was nearly 0.4s clear of 2011 runner-up Gordon Shedden in Honda's new NGTC Civic.
Shedden had been behind triple champion team-mate Matt Neal, but jumped to second with a late effort.
Rob Collard was also within half a second of Newsham in fourth, with one of West Surrey Racing's BMW, now running turbo engines for the first time. His team-mate Nick Foster also had a run in the same car.
Eurotech Racing's Andrew Jordan made it three NGTC Civics in the top five, while Rob Austin was sixth in one of his team's Austin Racing Audi A4s. His new signing Mark Hazell and 2011 driver Chris Swanwick also drove the car.
Fifteen cars officially recorded times, with 24 expected at the Brands Hatch season opener.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Dave Newsham ES Vauxhall 58.965s 2. Gordon Shedden Honda 59.359s + 0.394s 3. Matt Neal Honda 59.373s + 0.408s 4. Rob Collard WSR BMW 59.408s + 0.443s 5. Andrew Jordan Eurotech Honda 59.438s + 0.473s 6. Rob Austin Austin Audi 59.495s + 0.530s 7. Tom Onslow-Cole WSR BMW 59.569s + 0.604s 8. Aron Smith Motorbase Ford 59.646s + 0.681s 9. Chris James ES Vauxhall 59.693s + 0.728s 10. Liam Griffin Motorbase Ford 59.857s + 0.892s 11. Jeff Smith Eurotech Honda 59.874s + 0.909s 12. Ollie Jackson AmD Volkswagen 59.949s + 0.984s 13. Nick Foster WSR BMW 1m00.054 + 1.089s 14. Lea Wood Wood Vauxhall 1m00.318s + 1.353s 15. Tony Gilham Gilham Honda 1m03.573s + 4.608s 16. Mat Jackson Motorbase Ford 1m08.697s + 9.372s *Times for Mark Hazell and Chris Swanwick (Austin Audi) not available