BTCC: Croft qualifying report

Vauxhall's James Thompson has qualified on pole position for the first of his two home Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at Croft tomorrow (Sunday) and, with his team-mate Yvan Muller who leads the series back in sixth, will...

Vauxhall's James Thompson has qualified on pole position for the first of his two home Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at Croft tomorrow (Sunday) and, with his team-mate Yvan Muller who leads the series back in sixth, will see the race as a golden opportunity to eat into the 31-point gap the Frenchman holds over him at the head of the table.

Yorkshireman Thompson, the reigning champion, said: "Pole gives me a great chance to take points out of Yvan in the first race. Any trouble for him will put him back a long way down the grid for race two. But I can't rely on that happening, so just have to make sure I win."

Lining up behind Thompson on tomorrow's first race starting grid will be Honda drivers Matt Neal, Alan Morrison and Tom Chilton in their Civic Type- Rs and his other Vauxhall team-mate Paul O'Neill.

Muller, his Vauxhall Astra Coupe handicapped by maximum success ballast following his win in the previous round at Rockingham, will start sixth, followed by MG team-mates Anthony Reid and Warren Hughes in their ZSs. "Logically, James should take points out of me, but who knows what will happen? These are long races," said Muller. "Besides, I have no intention of getting involved with the drivers behind."

Reid, who was left to rue an error at Rockingham three weeks ago that gifted Muller victory, believes MG have made significant progress with their ZS at Croft. "It's very encouraging that, with comparable ballast to Yvan, we've been able to set very similar lap times to the Vauxhall," said Reid. "I aim to consolidate my position in the race and then go into the second with no extra weight. My intention this weekend is to give MG the victory they deserved at Rockingham."

Privateer Rob Collard, in his Vauxhall Astra Coupe, was the fastest Hilton Independents Trophy qualifier in ninth, just ahead of MG's junior driver Colin Turkington who believed he would have been much higher had his session not been cut short with an overheating engine.

In the Production class, Edenbridge Racing's Michael Bentwood, attempting to regain the lead after a heavy crash in his BMW at Rockingham, was the fastest qualifier. Tom Boardman, in Team Varta's Peugeot 307, was next up ahead of the Barwell Motorsport Honda Civic Type-Rs of Alan Blencowe and Luke Hines.

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