BTCC: Neal secures pole position at Brands Hatch

Matt Neal dominated the qualifying session for round 22 of the Championship at Brands Hatch. The Computeach Racing with Halfords driver, behind the wheel of a Honda Civic Type-R, took the lead early in the session and then responded to a late...

Matt Neal dominated the qualifying session for round 22 of the Championship at Brands Hatch. The Computeach Racing with Halfords driver, behind the wheel of a Honda Civic Type-R, took the lead early in the session and then responded to a late charge from VX Racing's Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) to retain the fastest time around the 1.2262-mile Indy circuit. James Kaye, driving a Vauxhall Astra Coupe for Synchro Motorsport, put on a stunning performance in the closing laps to qualify in third position for Sunday morning's race.

The session got off to an unusual start when Team Petronas Syntium Proton driver Farique Hairuman and GA Motorsport's Carl Breeze tangled on the approach to Druids hairpin after exiting the pits, bringing out the red flags and eliminating both cars from the session. At the restart Neal was immediately on the pace with a string of sub 50-second laps to take the lead. Muller and team-mate James Thompson quickly moved up to order to second and third respectively.

An immense battle then followed between SEAT Sport UK's Jason Plato and James Kaye as the pair exchanged personal best laps. Kaye then edged ahead with his sixteenth lap and then sealed third place two laps later on his final lap. Plato's quickest lap of the session was his penultimate lap but he was unable to significantly improve and eventually qualified down in tenth place, with fifth to tenth places covered by little more than one tenth of a second.

Muller pushed hard over towards the end of the session with a string on consistantly fast laps. Neal was forced to defend hard and nearly lost control of his car with a massive slide at McLaren corner near the end of a lap, before regaining control and soon setting the fastest lap of the session.

Muller currently leads the championship by one point from Thompson, with the pair lining up second and fourth respectively for tomorrow's race. Reid, who lies 22 points further behind in third place in his MG ZS, had a disappointing session and only managed to qualify in fifteenth place, three places behind his West Surrey Racing team-mate Colin Turkington.

The first of tomorrow's three races takes place at 10.45am BST (+1 hour GMT) with the second race at 1.40pm and the third race at 4.07pm.

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Series BTCC
Drivers Yvan Muller , James Thompson , Carl Breeze , Jason Plato , Colin Turkington , Matt Neal , James Kaye , Farique Hairuman