Luke Browning seized the upper hand with a double pole position in the wet during qualifying for this weekends F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered by Ford EcoBoost title decider at Brands Hatch.
Chief title rival Zak O’Sullivan (Carlin) led the pack through the spray for the majority of the session, but Fortec racer Browning managed to pull a 55.456 out of the bag with a little under five minutes left on the clock to edge out O’Sullivan by a tenth of a second.
On second-fastest times, that margin shrinks to half a tenth, but O’Sullivan ultimately couldn’t prevent Browning racking up a third and fourth pole position of the 2020 campaign respectively.
It means the pair will also start side-by-side for tomorrow afternoon’s blockbuster ITV4-televised finale, with the battle for the crown set to go right down to the wire in Kent.
The second row of the grid takes on extra significance, with Carlin’s Christian Mansell beating the second Fortec challenger of Roberto Faria to third and fourth respectively, meaning Carlin and Fortec – currently locked in a battle for the Teams’ title – will have the front of the grid all to themselves to duke it out for the honours.
JHR’s James Hedley and Abbi Pulling enjoyed another strong run to fifth and seventh respectively, the pair split by the leading Arden Motorsport car of Alex Connor.
Connor’s fellow Red Arrows, Frederick Lubin and Roman Bilinski, took eighth and ninth for the opener, with Matias Zagazeta rounding out the top ten for Carlin.
Crucially, that means Lubin will have plenty of work to do in Round 24 to deny Mansell ahead the Rookie title; the Australian need only out-score the Brit by six or more points to wrap up the crown today.
Casper Stevenson’s title bid took a blow, the Argenti Motorsport racer only able to manage 11th in the gloom, with team mate Reema Juffali for company on row six.
The opening race of the weekend is scheduled to get underway at 14:55 (GMT), with live coverage available at itv.com/btcc.
Grid for Race 1:
Grid for Race 3: