Colin Turkington took a second pole position of the BTCC season in qualifying at Snetterton, leading Team BMR Volkswagen teammates Aron Smith and Jason Plato.
The newly-liveried BMR machines were the cars to beat from the outset, with Plato immediately besting the benchmark set by Andrew Jordan in practice with a time of 1m56.118s.
That was soon bettered fractionally by Aron Smith, who put in a lap 0.034s faster at the one-third mark of the session, leading Plato and Jordan during the mid-session lull.
But Smith was denied a second pole of the year by a late improvement by Turkington, who snatched the top spot by a margin of just 0.037s at the end of an ultra-close session with a 1m56.047s.
Smith and Plato, hobbled by 66 kilograms of success ballast, remained second and third, ahead of Jordan’s MG, Matt Neal in the best of the Hondas and Andy Priaulx’s WSR BMW.
Jack Goff made a late jump to seventh in the dying stages, but lost any chance to further improve with an off on his next flying lap.
The Triple Eight driver shares the fourth row with Tordoff’s BMW, while Tom Ingram (Speedworks Toyota) and Rob Collard (BMW) round off the top 10 qualifiers.
Points leader Gordon Shedden endured a session to forget, carrying maximum success ballast of 75kgs and suffering a power steering failure. He ended up qualifying down in 16th, two places behind Mat Jackson in the best of the returning Motorbase Fords.
Qualifying Top 10: