Rob Austin has picked up his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship pole position after coming out on top of a frenetic battle for top spot in qualifying at Knockhill.
The WIX Racing man posted a new qualifying lap record to become the first Audi driver to top the times in qualifying since Frank Biela at the same circuit back in 1997, with a lap of 52.471secs being good enough to edge out Colin Turkington by just 0.047secs.
“I am extremely happy – I need a beer!” he said. “I knew the car was good at Snetterton but admittedly I didn't do a great job there personally. I knew we had a chance here at Knockhill but it's hard to say I expected pole. I am pretty confident going into tomorrow. Colin's had a couple of wins already this year so it's my turn and I'm hopefully going to take it!”
Behind the top two, Andy Jordan was third quickest in his Pirtek Racing Honda, but will start the opening race down in ninth place thanks to a six place grid penalty imposed for him picking up his third 'strike' for driving standards last time out at Snetterton.
Gordon Shedden will therefore start from third place in his Honda Civic saw him outpace title rivals Jason Plato and Matt Neal – the latter going sixth fastest in the session despite maximum ballast on his car. Toyota duo Adam Morgan and Frank Wrathall were seventh and eighth quickest, while Sam Tordoff in ninth was the last man to benefit from the penalty handed to Jordan.
Dan Welch then rounded out the top ten for the second successive weekend in his Proton.
While Austin stormed to pole, team-mate Will Bratt endured a session to forget as he was excluded for failing a ride height test and then the resultant retest, while the returning Paul O'Neill was sidelined early by an incident that saw him hit team-mate Kieran Gallagher at the hairpin. Warren Scott also crashed after going off at Scotsman, with the session being briefly halted to allow the tyre barrier to be repaired.
Of the newcomers, Mike Bushell was 17th in the IP Tech Chevrolet, with Gallagher in 24th. Aiden Moffat failed to post a time in the session after engine issues, although the 16-year-old aims to race on Sunday.