Scotsman Gordon Shedden has taken pole position for the opening round of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, Hampshire.

Honda Racing's Civics will line up first and third tomorrow, with the experienced Italian Fabrizio Giovanardi splitting them in his independently run Triple Eight Race Engineering Vauxhall Vectra.

The Scotsman overcame tricky track conditions to set a best time of 1m24.061s, a time which gives him the Championship lead – as pole for race 1 equals a single Championship Point, a point, admits Shedden, is the hardest he's ever worked for: “That's the hardest point I've ever scored,” before adding “I managed to get a good clean lap and it's great to be starting from front. Whatever the weather conditions tomorrow, there's going to be lots of excitement, so to be starting with a clear track ahead is the best position to be in.”

Before the first free practice session, “Flash” had never seen the Thruxton track in a state apart from dry, Shedden’s team mate Matt Neal will start third on the grid and is delighted with the teams start: “It's a brilliant start for the team to have both cars right up at the sharp end,” enthused the 2005 and 2006 champion. “It's going to be pretty fraught tomorrow but the Civic feels good in the wet and the dry, so we're ready and confident whatever the weather.”

For fellow manufacturer team Chevrolet, the qualifying session was a mixed bag as Jason Plato put his Chevrolet Cruze fifth on the grid, while 19 year old debutant Alex MacDowall had a rough introduction to the series, after he had all his times disallowed for failing the ride height check. He finished the session down in 15th place, while former Clio Cup rival Phil Glew finished his qualifying session in 9th place at the wheel of the other 888 Vectra.

The battle of the BMW drivers went to Airwaves BMW's Mat Jackson, who set the seventh fastest time and ended the session as the only BMW inside the top 10, while Airwaves team mate Steven Kane lines up 11th, next to 2008 team mate and former Airwaves driver Rob Collard, now with defending Champions, WSR.

The best of the Turbo cars is Andrew Jordan and the new for 2010 Pirtek Racing outfit, who will start the first race of the 30 race season from fourth on the grid, looking to back up his maiden Vauxhall podium from the 2009 season this weekend, while fellow Turbo engined Vectra driver David Pinkney will start in 13th place.

The LPG powered cars of Tom Chilton and Tom Onslow-Cole will line up on the outside of the third and fourth rows respectively.

The first race of the season starts at 11.30am, with all 3 races due to be live on ITV4 during the day.

Qualifying Times:

M – Manufacturer

I – Independent

Position Car Number Driver Team Car Class Time
1 52 Gordon Shedden Honda Racing Honda Civic M 1:24.061s
2 888 Fabrizio Giovanardi Uniq Racing/888 Vauxhall Vectra I 1:24.317s
3 4 Matt Neal Honda Racing Honda Civic M 1:24.614s
4 77 Andrew Jordan Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra I 1:24.833s
5 2 Jason Plato Silverline Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze M 1:24.868s
6 23 Tom Chilton Team Aon Ford Focus I 1:25.017s
7 5 Mat Jackson Airwaves BMW BMW 320si I 1:25.289s
8 21 Tom Onslow-Cole Team AON Ford Focus I 1:25.504s
9 88 Phil Glew Uniq Racing/888 Vauxhall Vectra I 1:25.563s
10 29 Paul O’Neill Sunshine.co.uk/Tech-Speed Msport Honda Integra I 1:25.832s
11 11 Steven Kane Airwaves BMW BMW 320si I 1:25.867s
12 6 Ron Collard WSR BMW 320si I 1:25.894s
13 55 David Pinkney Pinkney Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra I 1:26.362s
14 22 Tom Boardman Special Tuning UK Seat Leon I 1:26.369s
15 20 Alex MacDowall Silverline Chevrolet Chevrolet Cruze M 1:26.967s
16 27 Martin Johnson Boulevard Team Racing Vauxhall Astra Coupe I 1:27.292s
17 44 Andy Neate WSR BMW 320si I 1:28.270s
18 99 Shaun Hollamby AmD Milltek Racing.com VW Golf I 1:28.309s
19 98 Matt Hamilton TH Motorsport Honda Civic I 1:29.045s
20 28 John George Sunshine.co.uk/Tech-Speed Msport Honda Integra I 1:29.336s