Gordon Shedden will start the opening round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season from pole position after leading the way in a wet qualifying session at Thruxton.

The Honda driver posted a best time of 1min 24.061secs to knock team-mate Matt Neal off provisional pole, and the duo looked set to lock-out the front row as conditions worsened.

However, when the rain stopped and the circuit conditions began to improve, Fabrizio Giovanardi stormed into second place - showing no signs of rustiness despite only being confirmed in the second Triple Eight Vectra a day before the meeting.

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Neal will therefore line up in third place ahead of Andy Jordan, who put the NGTC-powered Pirtek Racing Vectra on the second row of the grid, with Jason Plato and Tom Chilton rounding out the top six.

Mat Jackson was quickest BMW driver in seventh - despite collecting an advertising hoarding on the front of his car mid-way through the session - with Tom Onslow-Cole, debutant Phil Glew and Paul O'Neill rounding out the top ten.

Elsewhere, Alex MacDowall will start 15th after the time he had set early in the session - which put him inside the top six - was disallowed when the Chevrolet Cruze failed the right height test.

Shaun Hollamby made an encouraging start with his VW Golf, outqualifying both Matt Hamilton and John George.