<pre> 2001 www.theAA.com MSA British Touring Car Championship Rounds 17 & 18 - Croft - Qualifying - 4 August </pre> West Midlands' Phil Bennett took the first pole position of his touring car career today putting his Vauxhall Astra...
<pre> 2001 www.theAA.com MSA British Touring Car Championship Rounds 17 & 18 - Croft - Qualifying - 4 August
</pre> West Midlands' Phil Bennett took the first pole position of his touring car career today putting his Vauxhall Astra Coupe ahead Jason Plato for tomorrow's 15-lap Sprint Race at North Yorkshire's Croft circuit. This is Bennett's first season in touring cars competing alongside the seasoned campaigners. Plato's Vauxhall Motorsport teammate, Yvan Muller, and Egg Sport's James Thompson filled the second row of the Sprint grid.
However, it was Yorkshireman, Thompson who took pole for the main 30-lap Feature Race in front of his home crowd ahead of BTCC championship leader, Muller. Bennett pipped Plato to take third by just two hundredths of a second. The extended and dry qualifying session was red flagged halfway through by Bennett after he came in to pit for fresh tyres and spun off into the first corner gravel trap.
Phil Bennett, Car 27 - Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe
Grid: Sprint - Pole, 1:26.171; Feature - 3rd, 1:26.371
"Happy days! It's about time really, we've always been there or thereabouts, especially after Snetterton. It's time for a bit of a lift, it should make for an interesting race tomorrow. I did have a little off at the end of the start-finish straight, I was distracted by cars coming out of pitlane and forgot I was on cold tyres. Lucky I was on pole otherwise I think I would have had some explaining to do."
Jason Plato, Car 5 - Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupe
Grid: Sprint - 2nd, 1:26.280; Feature - 4th, 1:26.391
"I think the rain earlier might have taken the edge off the track surface, because the Astra Coupe felt completely different now that it did in free practice this morning, it's understeering too much."
Yvan Muller (F), Car 4 - Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupe
Grid: Sprint - 3rd, 1:26.326; Feature - 2nd, 1:26.261
"Very frustrated. I know I have the speed but my style of driving just doesn't suit the diff settings we have at the moment. We have some work to do, but we know in which areas we can get improvements."
James Thompson, Car 9 - Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe
Grid: Sprint - 4th, 1:26.359; Feature - Pole: 1:25.920
"I was in the gravel trap twice pushing for pole, but I'm happy overall. My second best time was lost when the red flag came out - such is life! It was all a bit of a panic after that with tyres cooling off, but I should have been on the front row for both races here in front of my home crowd. Phil did a good job."
www.theAA.com MSA British Touring Car Championship Rounds 17/18 - Croft - August 11
Qualifying - Sprint Race 1 Phil Bennett Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:26.171 2 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:26.280 3 Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:26.326 4 James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:26.359 5 Thomas Erdos Lexus IS200 1:27.034 6 Steve Soper Peugeot 406 Coupe 1:27.335
Qualifying - Feature Race 1 James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:25.920 2 Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:26.261 3 Phil Bennett Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:26.371 4 Jason Plato Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:26.391 5 Thomas Erdos Lexus IS200 1:27.274 6 Steve Soper Peugeot 406 Coupe 1:27.305