Jason Plato secured his first pole position of the 2011 British Touring Car season to bring Honda Racing's unbeaten streak on a Saturday afternoon to an end.
The reigning champion also took the Chevrolet Cruze to the first pole position for a normally aspirated car so far this year, with the turbo powered Honda Civic proving unstoppable up until now.
It took a stunning lap from Plato to deny the Hondas after championship leader Matt Neal rocketed to the top of the timesheets with two minutes remaining, demoting long-time pole sitter Rob Collard. Plato was already in the process of responding and managed to produce a lap of 1:24.839, nearly four tenths of a second quicker than Neal.
Whether the equalisation in performance that Plato has been looking for has truly been achieved will probably not be discovered until tomorrow, as Neal's Honda was carrying 45kg of success ballast.
The late improvements from the championship rivals forced Collard to settle for third, who set his fastest lap in the first five minutes as the WSR BMW had little trouble building up tyre temperature in the chilly conditions.
With the rear-wheel drive machine likely to be a major threat off the start line, tomorrow's dash to turn one is sure to be thrilling, with Plato and Neal also set to go head-to-head.
The second Silverline Chevrolet will line up fourth in the form of Alex MacDowall who looked on course to go quicker in the final minute but seemed to be caught out as light rain began to fall. Championship contenders Andrew Jordan and James Nash will line-up together on the third row in their turbo powered Vauxhall Vectras but Gordon Shedden could only manage seventh, half a second shy of his Honda Racing teammate on the front row.
Tom Chilton was the highest placed Ford Focus in eighth in the Global machine but that honour should have gone to Airwaves Racing's Mat Jackson who slid off the track at Sunny In when it looked like he was going to climb into the top six. Instead he was forced to settle for ninth, with Paul O'Neill completing the top ten.
Tom Onslow–Cole qualified a disappointing 15th on his return to Team Aon, but he will still start six places ahead of the VW Golf that he has been driving so far this season after Shaun Hollamby ended the session in 21st place.
|1||Jason Plato||Chevrolet Cruze||Silverline Chevrolet||1:24.839|
|2||Matt Neal||Honda Civic||Honda Racing Team||+0.372|
|3||Rob Collard||BMW 320si E90||WSR||+0.552|
|4||Alex MacDowall||Chevrolet Cruze||Silverline Chevrolet||+0.708|
|5||Andrew Jordan||Vauxhall Vectra||Pirtek Racing||+0.736|
|6||James Nash||Vauxhall Vectra||888 Racing with Collins Contractors||+0.817|
|7||Gordon Shedden||Honda Civic||Honda Racing Team||+0.835|
|8||Tom Chilton||Global Ford Focus||Team Aon||+0.981|
|9||Mat Jackson||Ford Focus ST||Airwaves Racing||+1.089|
|10||Paul O'Neill||Chevrolet Cruze||GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed||+1.152|
|11||Rob Austin||Audi A4||Rob Austin Racing||+1.350|
|12||Tom Boardman||SEAT Leon||Special Tuning Racing||+1.408|
|13||Nick Foster||BMW 320si E90||WSR||+1.475|
|14||Dave Newsham||SEAT Leon||Special Tuning Racing||+1.666|
|15||Tom Onslow-Cole||Global Ford Focus||Team Aon||+1.693|
|16||Jeff Smith||Vauxhall Vectra||Pirtek Racing||+1.785|
|17||Frank Wrathall||Toyota Avensis||Dynojet||+2.124|
|18||Andy Neate||Global Ford Focus||Team Aon||+2.307|
|19||Tony Gilham||Vauxhall Vectra||888 Racing with Collins Contractors||+2.353|
|20||Lea Wood||Honda Integra||Central Group Racing||+2.793|
|21||Shaun Hollamby||Volkswagen Golf||AmD Milltek Racing.com||+3.376|
|22||John George||Chevrolet Cruze||GoMobileUK.com with Tech-Speed||+3.617|
|23||Liam Griffin||Ford Focus ST||Airwaves Racing||+3.893|
|24||Chris James||Chevrolet Lacetti||Team ES Racing||+5.138|