Fabrizio Giovanardi has taken just his second pole position in the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship after leading the way in qualifying at Thruxton.

Despite seeing his VX Racing Vectra sustain heavy damage in an incident with Stephen Jelley during the second free practice session, the Italian produced a stunning performance in qualifying to hit the track and post a quick lap of 1min 17.985secs before returning to the pits.

That lap was quick enough for the early pole and would remain unbeaten for the remainder of the session, giving Giovanardi pole from just one flying lap.

Despite maximum ballast on his car, Matt Neal was second in his Vectra - albeit more than three-tenths of a second back - while Jason Plato was third in the Racing Silverline Chevrolet Lacetti after a late lap prevented Vauxhall from securing a lock-out of the top three places.

Plato's lap demoted Andrew Jordan to fourth - still his best performance to date - while Colin Turkington was fifth as he proved to be the only BMW runner able to break into the top ten at a circuit where the rear-wheel drive cars have tended to struggle in qualifying.

Sixth place went to the returning Paul O'Neill, who produced a stunning performance in his first BTCC outing since the 2007 season finale at the wheel of the Team sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed Honda Integra, putting him ahead of Adam Jones and James Thompson. Dan Eaves and Mat Jackson rounded out the top ten - the latter in his first qualifying session in front-wheel drive touring car.

Elsewhere, Jelly was able to qualify only 14th in his repaired BMW while Team Aon continued to struggle with Tom Chilton down in 19th and Alan Morrison 21st. It left Morrison slowest of the drivers to set a time, with Nick Leason missing the session due to mechanical issues on the AFM Racing BMW 120d.

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