Jason Plato and Triple Eight came out on top in a frantic qualifying session for the final Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the season at Brands Hatch, as drying conditions threw up a lottery.
Plato held the advantage for much of the session, but times then began to tumble as slick tyres became the better option in the drying conditions.
The drier rubber saw times eventually fall to as low as the 1m33s barrier, where several drivers fought over the top spot throughout the 30-minute qualifying session.
Alain Menu returned to his flamboyant best as he was the first man to switch to slicks, relieving Plato of the top spot before Matt Neal did likewise in the Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourer.
The 14-time Brands Hatch BTCC race winner then lost out quickly to Menu once again, triple champion Neal eventually falling like a stone in the drying conditions to a starting spot of 22nd.
Gordon Shedden appeared most likely to deny the BMR Racing Volkswagen CC of Menu pole position, lowering the times by almost two seconds in the second works Civic Tourer.
Menu instantly retaliated, but then the tables turned as MG left it until the final three minutes to move into the top two positions, Plato earning his and the Manufacturers’ Championship chances the best possible outcome with a fourth pole position of the season.
The pole time was 1m33.494s, beating his Triple Eight team-mate Sam Tordoff by 0.8s as the MGs locked out the front row ahead of Shedden and current championship leader, Colin Turkington.
Turkington never headed the times but stayed close to the front as he defends a 49-point lead, Adam Morgan rounding out the top five ahead of Fabrizio Giovanardi and James Cole, all three having scored their best qualifying results of the season, Cole’s best ever for United Autosports.
Mat Jackson, Nick Foster and Dave Newsham rounded out the top 10, although the Amd Tuning Ford Focus of Newsham ended in the gravel to bring the session to an early conclusion.
Tom Ingram was next up ahead of Jack Goff‘s BMR Racing Volkswagen CC, while Menu – having been in contention for pole for so long – was bumped to 13th by the time the session was stopped.
Rob Collard showed no side effects for himself or the repaired WSR BMW 125i, climbing to as high as second place in the opening half of the session before falling to 23rd by its conclusion.