BTCC: Brands Hatch qualifying notes

Thompson on pole position for 200th BTCC race James Thompson overcame a weight ballast handicap on his Vauxhall Astra Coupe to qualify on pole position for tomorrow's (Monday) third round of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship...

Thompson on pole position for 200th BTCC race

James Thompson overcame a weight ballast handicap on his Vauxhall Astra Coupe to qualify on pole position for tomorrow's (Monday) third round of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch - his 200th race start in the series.

In hot sunshine and under clear blue skies, reigning champion Thompson set a best lap time of 49.716 seconds around Brands' 1.2-mile circuit - just 7/1000ths of a second faster than the Honda Civic Type-R of Matt Neal.

After winning Mondello Park's opening two rounds, Thompson's car starts this weekend heavy on success ballast. The 29-year-old said: "Just what I wanted! I'm a bit surprised we're quickest overall because of the extra weight, but the Astra has never seemed to be too badly affected by the ballast.

"Tomorrow's race, though, could be very tough. The weight puts extra strain on brakes and tyres and we should, in theory, not be as quick as normal out of the corners. Let's see ..."

Thompson's Vauxhall Racing team-mates Yvan Muller and Paul O'Neill will share the second row of the grid, with an all-MG look to the third, with Colin Turkington having nicked fifth position in his ZS ahead of Warren Hughes.

O'Neill had to sit out much of the session after spinning into the gravel on the outside of Paddock Hill Bend. Directly opposite, Honda's Tom Chilton rolled his Civic Type-R after crashing into the barriers and the session had to be stopped for a while. The damage to the 18-year-old's car was so bad that he will not take part in either round three or four tomorrow. The starting grid order for round four, later in the day, will be decided by the finishing positions in round three.

Meanwhile, when qualifying resumed, GA Motorsports' Gavin Pyper was able to set the eighth quickest time as the fastest Hilton Independents Trophy with a time of 50.038s in his Vauxhall Astra Coupe. Trophy leader Rob Collard, in his Astra Coupe, will start directly behind Pyper in 10th position.

Barwell Motorsport's Luke Hines was the fastest Production runner in his Civic Type-R, 16th overall on 52.341s, but his car suffered heavy rear-end damage in a collision with the Touring class Proton Impian of Phil Bennett at Clearways.

Edenbridge Racing's Michael Bentwood was the second fastest Production class runner ahead of the GA Alfa Romeo 156s of Paul Wallace and Chris Ryan. Jim Edwards, who shares the Production class lead with Bentwood, was fifth quickest in his Team Varta Honda Accord.

For all the latest news and results, visit he official Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship website www.tocatour.co.uk

-btcc-

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