Sam Tordoff made it back-to-back pole positions as he beat championship leader Colin Turkington to the top spot for the eighth Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting at Rockingham.
Much of the 30-minute qualifying session was dominated by the works MG duo of Tordoff and Plato, the latter claiming the initial advantage as the fog lifted around the Corby Motor Speedway.
Plato’s effort was soon demolished by his team-mate, as Tordoff jumped to the head of the times with a lap time of 1m22.471s which proved almost half a second quicker than the double champion.
The time proved enough for the Leeds driver to back up his Knockhill pole position, Tordoff collecting the third pole of his still young BTCC career by a healthy cushion of 0.484s.
An MG one-two was scuppered in the final moments of the session as championship leader Turkington split the Triple Eight machines to make up the front row, demoting Plato to row two which he will share with fellow championship contender, Gordon Shedden.
The Honda Yuasa Racing driver moved steadily up the times during the session, joining the top five as the Civic Tourer improved its pace before ending fourth after Turkington’s late effort. The Northern Irishman also survived a spin at Chapman while evading Chris Stockton, one of many to endure an excursion at some stage.
Andrew Jordan made it two Hondas in the top five with fifth in the Pirtek Racing Civic, pipping an impressive Adam Morgan who continued to display top-10 pace in the Ciceley Racing Mercedes A-Class.
Seventh went the way of Marc Hynes in the third MG, the best of the season for the 1999 British Formula 3 champion, ahead of eighth-placed Alain Menu who spent much of the session in the top five for BMR Racing.
Shedden’s team-mate Matt Neal had briefly moved up to fifth also late in proceedings, but was soon pushed down to ninth in the flurry of late improvements through the field. The top 10 was rounded out by Airwaves Racing’s Mat Jackson, just edging out his team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi.
Glynn Geddie and Ollie Jackson both pulled over with mechanical problems, while Hunter Abbott and 12th-placed Tom Ingram both recovered from excursions.