Alex Solley produced his best qualifying performance of the season by far to grab the final pole of the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy season at Brands Hatch.

The session would be held in challenging wet conditions around the short Indy circuit, with a packed field of 32 cars all trying to find clear space in the 15 minute session.

The slippery surface would catch out a number of drivers through the early part of the session, with newcomer Jordan Kerridge and returnee Sam Baker both suffering spins at Surtees, as did Irish racer Brendan Fitzgerald and Jonathan Sargeant.

Lauren Tayla, returning to the grid for the first time since Croft, also suffered a spin that saw her slip into the gravel at Clearways, although she was able to recover onto the circuit to continue in the session.

With lap times improving throughout, Nathan Edwards set the early pace for EXCELR8 before champion-elect Nelson King and then his Graves Motorsport team-mate Nicky Taylor moved into provisional pole.

Taylor it was who held P1 ahead of Edwards and Tom Ovenden when the session was brought to a halt to recover the car of John McGladrigan from the side of the circuit on the run to Druids, with the action then resuming for the final five minutes.

Whilst Taylor would fail to improve over the closing laps, Solley – who sat in fourth at the time of the stoppage – was amongst those to go quicker and with his final lap of the session, edged ahead of his team-mate to grab a first pole since Thruxton last season.

“It’s been a while since my first pole and we’ve been trying a lot of changes with the car to get it dialled in in recent races – and we got it right today,” he said. “I’m glad the session resumed after the red flag because I just needed the final five minutes as I knew where the time was and luckily we went back out and I could get it done.

“At the start of the session, I was bit worried because of the traffic but we were still up inside the top four, but it was all about getting some clear air at the end and making it count.”

Taylor would end up just 0.069s behind as he missed out on pole, but was able to secure a front row start for the third time this season as he looks to secure a first victory of the year.

“It’s a bit annoying to lose out on pole but at least its to a team-mate,” he said. “I was up on my final lap but then Paul Manning had a bit of moment and I got caught up in a bit and lost time, but second is a good place to be.

“I love these conditions and seem to go better in the wet so if it keeps raining then it’ll be fine with me. I have a bit of a fresh mindset this weekend, and I’m hoping to try and bring home a win.”

Behind the top two, Edwards was another driver who enjoyed his best qualifying result of the year as he slotted into third spot – just 0.002s behind Taylor – to share the second row of the grid with King, whilst EXCELR8 team-mates Tom Ovenden and Matt Hammond rounding out the top six.

“The car has been unbelievable in the wet since ewe moved to EXCELR8 and we were quick out the box,” Edwards said. “I was on a lap that could have given me pole but then I threw it away in the second sector with a mistake and pushed too hard – and I know Dan [Zelos] is going to tell me off for that!”

Outside the top six, Lee Pearce took seventh spot ahead of Oliver Meadows and Charlie Mann, with the top ten completed by Alex Keens – who produced a storming lap to round out the top ten having not previously qualified higher than 28th.

Amongst those with work to do in the opening race will be Jack Byrne, who starts race one from eleventh spot, as well as Donington race winner Joe Wiggin – who will start back in 14th having benefitted from a three place grid penalty for Frankie Taylor.

Mick Fitzgerald meanwhile was 27th quickest in the session but was then excluded from the results and will start from the back of the field with a ten second time penalty.