Josh Cook has taken his maiden BTCC pole position after heading a dramatic half-hour shootout at Donington Park in his Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall.
Cook grabbed the top slot on the very last lap after a truncated damp session, which had been halted with five minutes to go as Aiden Moffat’s Laser Tools Racing Mercedes ran into the gravel on the exit of the chicane when its upright broke.
The rain abated slightly as the cars readied themselves to rejoin the circuit. The first to eclipse Sam Tordoff (Motorbase Ford), who had been fastest up until that point, was Chris Smiley (BTC Norlin Honda).
Cook sealed his first pole with the very last tour to outshine Smiley by 0.030s.
The 26-year-old, who has yet to win a race in the championship, said: “It was certainly lively in that last dash – the stoppage made it interesting and made the heart rate go up a bit. It was all going to be about who could do it at the end.
“I saw on my dashboard that I was up as I got to the back straight and it was all about keeping things calm. I am delighted for myself and for the team, but this is only 50 per cent of the job. We have to convert it into results tomorrow.”
Early pacesetter Tordoff was relegated to third place, and will share the second row with the factory-backed Team Dynamics Honda of Dan Cammish.
Moffat, who had been fastest over the opening part of the session, dropped to fifth and he will start alongside Jack Goff in the Eurotech Racing Honda, who took his 66kg of success ballast to sixth spot.
Colin Turkington will line up the leading works BMW in 11th spot, although his WSR teammate Andrew Jordan, who had lost time in the morning with a turbo problem, suffered a repeat in the afternoon and was restricted to 30th.
Leading the points coming into the round, Tom Ingram could only manage 16th spot in his fully ballasted Speedworks Motorsport Toyota, just ahead of Matt Neal’s Team Dynamics Honda.
Reigning champion Ash Sutton only joined the session after 14 minutes as the BMR squad had performed an engine change between free practice two and qualifying.
He was only able to compete five laps, but set the 22nd-best time to finish directly behind his Subaru teammate Jason Plato.