Jason Plato has extended his lead in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship standings to 18 points after setting the pace in qualifying for the final rounds of the year at Brands Hatch.

Despite maximum ballast on his car, Plato broke the qualifying lap record at the wheel of his Chevrolet Cruze, with a lap of 48.647secs being enough to see him beat closest rival Matt Neal to pole.

Amazingly it marked the first time Plato has taken pole this season.

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Gordon Shedden lines up on the second row of the grid as three of the four drivers in contention for the title fill the top three places, with Alex MacDowall fourth - despite a trip into the barriers at Clearways which appeared to be due to John George spinning ahead.

Tom Chilton was quickest of the Team Aon Fords in fifth ahead of Mat Jackson's BMW and Triple Eight duo James Nash and Sam Tordoff. The latter was arguably one of the stars of the session as he took a place on the fourth row of the grid for his debut, with Paul O'Neill and Tom Onslow-Cole rounding out the top ten.

Onslow-Cole now faces a huge challenge to keep his already slim title hopes alive given the fact his three rivals have qualified at the front.

Elsewhere, James Kaye was forced to sit out qualifying due to issues with his Honda Integra while Ben Collins encountered further mechanical problems which left him unable to set a time.