While the focus of the paddock was on the battle for championship honours, Stephen Jelley produced a shock in qualifying at Brands Hatch by taking his maiden pole position in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship.

The Team RAC driver, who heads into the final weekend of the season having scored just 13 points during his debut season after making the move over from Formula Three, was inside the top ten in both free practice sessions at the Kent circuit but wasn't expected to be amongst those seeking to secure the final pole position of the 2008 campaign.

Indeed, it looked like another BMW driver Mat Jackson was going to take the honour, but Jelley then posted a storming lap of 49.427secs to steal pole by just 0.062secs.

"I've been keeping it back for the last race!" he told Crash.net afterwards. "To be honest with you, the first session went well but then in the second session we had a driveshaft problem which ruined our flow. However the car felt good and I joked that we could be on for pole. The chief mechanic Steve even said that if I got pole, he'd do a jig on the grid in his undies before the races...

"I think I could have got pole on my second run in the session before getting traffic but the time that came up on the dash showed me that pole could be on. I came into the pits and they asked if I wanted any changes so I told them to just stick the new tyres on and let me go. I went out and did the lap and when I came back they didn't believe I'd managed pole; its mega.

"I feel a lot more comfortable in the car now and my qualifying has been getting better. Its all down to time behind the wheel and it shows with this result."

With team-mate Colin Turkington fighting for third overall in the standings and the Independents' title, Jelley said his focus on race day would be to score as many points as possible to take points away from Turkington's main rival Jackson - although he admitted that being on pole wouldn't automatically guarantee his best result of the year.

"The best I can do to help Colin is to run my own race and go out there to score as many points as possible," he said. "However, I've had experience in other series where I have been on pole and then got spun off early so anything can happen.

"I just have to get my head down, try and get a good start and then drive off into the sunshine!"