Mondello Maestro Muller Secures Pole Position for VX Racing Saturday 12 June 2004, Mondello Park, Ireland -- Yvan Muller claimed pole for VX Racing, in a dominant qualifying display for tomorrow's British Touring Car Championship race. His VX ...
Mondello Maestro Muller Secures Pole Position for VX Racing
Saturday 12 June 2004, Mondello Park, Ireland -- Yvan Muller claimed pole for VX Racing, in a dominant qualifying display for tomorrow's British Touring Car Championship race. His VX Racing team mates, James Thompson and Luke Hines, were not quite so lucky and will be starting in fourth and eighth place respectively.
The 30-minute qualifying session began with a queue of cars eagerly waiting to exit the pit lane as the green flag dropped. All three VX Racing drivers immediately pitted after the first lap to exchange the front and rear tyres on their Vauxhall Astra Coupes. Muller then rejoined the track and in his first flying lap demonstrated the ice cool skill and determination that won him the drivers' championship in 2003. Despite carrying the maximum 42 kilos of success ballast, the Frenchman put in a blistering lap and went straight to the top of the time sheets. The best efforts of the rest of the field went in vain as they fought topple his lead. Muller remained at the top for the rest of the session and will start the first of tomorrow's three races in pole position.
Thompson and Hines struggled through the session, spending most of it in the unusual territory of mid-field places. While Hines battled on, trying to improve his times, Thompson fought his way back from being a second off the pace, and with only five minutes of the session remaining, he managed to reduce the gap and clinched fourth position. Hines finished eighth amid fears of damage to his car, sustained while pushing hard over the Mondello curbs.
The three VX Racing drivers used the morning's free practice sessions to perfect both qualifying and race set-up. Thompson finished the first session third quickest despite carrying 18 kilos of success ballast, with Muller close behind him in fourth place. Hines returned to the pits in ninth place in the third Vauxhall Astra Coupe.
The second free practice period was less productive for VX Racing, vital track time was lost in an eventful session that saw three red flags, with track action bought to a halt, as stricken vehicles were removed from the perimeter of the twisty Mondello Park circuit. Muller finished the disrupted session fourth quickest, with Thompson right behind him in fifth. Young gun Hines, made it another ninth place finish.
Muller's pole position will give him a one-point advantage over his team mate Thompson as the two began the day tied on points at the top of the drivers' championship.
Yvan Muller, Car No. 1
"I had a heavy car, but I'm pleased. To be honest, I was surprised at my lap time; I couldn't imagine doing a 1 minute 46.4 seconds. When I did the lap I had to check twice on my dash to be sure it was right. It was a good lap, especially with the weight penalty, which of course doesn't help - this is not the worst circuit for the effect of success ballast. But for sure it doesn't help!"
James Thompson, Car No. 2
"I'm quite pleased, I was in eighth place for most of the session and that wasn't a good position to be in. So I was pleased to end up fourth. It wasn't particularly good, I'm ruing the time I lost in the second free practice session. The car just didn't feel right, we were almost a second off the pace for most of the session, so I'm at a bit of a loss to know why. I'm sure we'll have a good hunt through the data and sort it out for tomorrow. Overall I'm reasonably pleased."
Luke Hines, Car No. 57
"I was eighth in the end, but I only really got one clear run. I think I caught a curb and damaged the sump. When you run over a curb here there is quite a drop, and I think it has cracked the sump. This is a harsh circuit; it's very hard on the cars. It also wasn't easy because of the red flags this morning. It's also the first time I've driven this car on this circuit, so it's a case of learning quick."
1 Yvan Muller 1 min 46.424 secs 2 Anthony Reid 1 min 46.473 secs 3 Colin Turkington 1 min 46.609 secs
4 James Thompson 1 min 46.786 secs 8 Luke Hines 1 min 47.330 secs
Free Practice Two
1 Anthony Reid 1 min 46.786 secs 2 Matt Neal 1 min 47.103 secs 3 Colin Turkington 1 min 47.340 secs
4 Yvan Muller 1 min 47.370 secs 5 James Thompson 1 min 47.806 secs 9 Luke Hines 1 min 48.259 secs
Free Practice One
1 Matt Neal 1 min 47.563 secs 2 Anthony Reid 1 min 47.605 secs 3 James Thompson 1 min 47.873 secs
4 Yvan Muller 1 min 48.150 secs 9 Luke Hines 1 min 49.257 secs
Trackside contacts: Kelly Burton Tel: +44 (0)7733 224773 Alison Hill Tel: +44 (0)7710 306588