Jason Plato will start the BTCC season finale from pole position after leading the way in a truncated qualifying session on the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
With his MG being the class of the field in the session, Plato was able to break Tom Chilton's qualifying lap record to emerge narrowly ahead of team-mate Sam Tordoff, with the pair split by just 0.036secs at the sessions end.
Andrew Jordan was a fine third despite the maximum ballast on his Civic as championship leader, with Gordon Shedden, Adam Morgan and Colin Turkington rounding out the top six.
While that means four of the five championship contenders will start at the sharp end of the grid, Matt Neal faces an even bigger challenge after crashing out into the barriers on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend.
Already nursing a finger injury, Neal was in some discomfort as he climbed from his damaged car but has vowed to race on tomorrow in an attempt to take a fourth title.
Elsewhere, Jake Hill impressed to secure tenth in the Exocet Racing Audi A4 on his debut in the car – outqualifying team-mate Rob Austin in the process – while debutant Tom Barley was 23rd, a place ahead of the returning Shaun Hollamby.
Aron Smith was forced to sit out the session after crashing his Airwaves Racing Ford Focus in FP2, with the team facing a busy night to repair the damage ahead of race day.