Honda Yuasa Racing’s Gordon Shedden secured pole position at Donington Park after his late flying lap edged out a fantastic effort from Frank Wrathall in the Dynojet Toyota Avensis.
Shedden last claimed a BTCC pole position back in 2011 at Oulton Park, but the reigning champion would not be denied on this occasion as his ballast-free Honda Civic flew through the sweeping turns of the Leicestershire circuit.
His lap was still good enough to force early pace-setter Andrew Jordan down to third however, but the Pirtek Racing squad will be buoyed by its performance having carried significant success ballast.
Matt Neal (Honda Civic) and Jason Plato (MG6) will line-up fourth and fifth respectively for tomorrow's opener, ahead of Ciceley Racing's Adam Morgan after yet another impressive performance.
The Toyota Avensis driver produced a number of eye catching displays at Brands Hatch last month, and his early quick lap at Donington confirmed his place in the top six order.
MG KX Momentum youngster Sam Tordoff will be a little frustrated with seventh on the grid having run nearer the front during practice, whilst Colin Turkington closed out the top eight as his eBay Motors team continue to develop the new BMW 125i M Sport.
Dave Newsham again left it late to haul his Avensis into the top ten - he ended up ninth ahead of the Honda Civic of Jeff Smith, who recovered from an early spin. Tom Onslow-Cole (VW Passat) finished a second off the ultimate pace, but still topped both Rob Collard (BMW 125i M Sport) and Mat Jackson (Ford Focus).
Jackson's Airwaves Racing team-mate ended his session in the gravel, bringing out a late red flag, which completed a rather frustrating day for the Wrotham-based squad.
Rob Austin also had his own trip through the gravel on the entry to Goddards but recovered to end the session in 18th, one place behind team-mate Will Bratt.
James Kaye continued to dominate the S2000 runners, as the veteran racer saw off the challenges from the Ford Focus duo of David Nye and Liam Griffin.
Gordon Shedden said: “With the tools at our disposal and with not carrying any ballast, then I think pole position had to be the aim. Wrathall was the surprise of the session so I plan to try and get my head down and keep out in front tomorrow. It’s my first pole position in the NGTC car and it’s been a long time coming, so I’m delighted.”
Frank Wrathall said: “The lap was pretty wild. It was on the edge but I managed to keep it all together and squeeze every last bit out of the car. We didn’t really know what our true pace was, so it was nice to find ourselves so far up and be in the mix.”
Andrew Jordan said: “We were hoping for pole and I messed up my fastest lap a little at the chicane. It was still a good result considering the weight we have on the car and we’ll look forward to fighting at the front tomorrow.”