Under grey skies, the British Touring Car Championship again served up a thrilling qualifying session as the 31 cars careered around the demanding 1.3 miles of Knockhill.

Early in yesterday's 30-minute session - which was punctuated by a short red-flag stoppage after Chris Stockton went off at the foot of Duffus Dip in his Chevrolet - the top order shuffled faster than a croupier in a casino.

Championship leader Colin Turkington was the fastest qualifier with a time of 51.705s, but the 32-year-old from Portadown will start the first of today's three races from ninth place in his BMW as he was carrying an eight-place grid penalty after a mid-race altercation with Honda's Matt Neal last time out at Snetterton.

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When the session finished, Turkington was a clear 0.464s ahead of the second-fastest car, the MG driven by Sam Tordoff, but it's Tordoff who will start in pole position.

Despite his demotion on the grid, the Irishman remained positive as he wrapped up against the unseasonal Knockhill chill.

"We've shown today that we've the fastest car," said Turkington. "And those ahead on the grid know I'll be hunting them down. It'll be tough, but it should produce great action for the spectators and everyone who is watching the live TV coverage."

Meanwhile, Gordon Shedden the 35-year-old from Dalgety Bay, moved up from fifth to fourth on the grid as a result of Turkington's demotion.

"Ideally I'd have liked to have started on the front row," said the 2012 champion, who clocked 52.294s in his Honda.

"I'm starting five places ahead of Colin and that's the main thing. Hopefully I can get at least a podium finish in the opener, then build on that for the second race.

"If I can achieve that, I'm confident I'll close the gap on Colin. But we all know how competitive BTCC is, so it's going to be a real ding-dong tomorrow."

Rob Austin lines up in second place after a barnstorming final lap in his Audi A4, ahead of defending champion Andrew Jordan's Honda and Shedden.

There were strong performances too from the three other Scots. Aberdeen's Glynn Geddie starts 10th in his Toyota, while Dave Newsham begins in 15th in his Ford Focus.

Seventeen-year-old Aiden Moffat from Dalkeith, who made his BTCC debut in the corresponding race 12 months ago, lines up 20th in his Chevrolet.