West Surrey Racing's Andy Priaulx enjoyed a dream BTCC return during qualifying for the season opening rounds at Brands Hatch, as he held off an assault from Team BMR to clinch pole position.
The BMW driver set his best time, a 48.411s, just before red flags were shown with 10 minutes of the session remaining as Martin Depper's Eurotech Honda Civic shed a wheel.
Once proceedings got back under way, the amount of traffic on the circuit ensured that Priaulx's time would remain unbeaten, although Aron Smith's BMR Volkswagen CC came very close with a best effort falling just 0.069s shy in the closing moments.
The Irishman's team-mates Jason Plato and Colin Turkington will share the second row, the pair separated by one thousandth of a second in the final reckoning, both having set fastest first sectors late on only to have their hopes of denying Priaulx dashed.
Rob Collard made it two BMWs in the top five with fifth place, while Jack Goff's MG and Gordon Shedden's Honda both recovered from offs during the session to set the sixth and seventh best times, both within two tenths of Priaulx's benchmark.
Sam Tordoff (WSR BMW), Tom Ingram (Speedworks Toyota) and Andrew Jordan (Triple Eight MG) completed the top 10, just ahead of the second works Civic Type-R of Matt Neal after the three-time series champion was shuffled all the way down from the fifth place he held when the red flags were shown.