James Thompson qualified his Vauxhall Astra Coupe in pole position for the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship with a strong lap midway though the session. His team-mate Yvan Muller finished just a fraction behind him and WSR ...
James Thompson qualified his Vauxhall Astra Coupe in pole position for the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship with a strong lap midway though the session. His team-mate Yvan Muller finished just a fraction behind him and WSR driver Anthony Reid qualified his MG ZS in third.
Honda driver Matt Neal put in the first serious flying lap and he went even quicker on the next lap but was immediately eclipsed by the WSR pair of Reid and Colin Turkington who went first and second respectively.
The VX Racing pair Thompson and Muller both took to the track after a few minutes and Thompson immediately went fastest ahead of Muller in second, nearly half a second ahead of Reid. The leading drivers then pitted and those further down the field did their fastest laps – Shaun Watson-Smith moved up to eleventh place ahead of Cark Breeze in twelfth, Charlie Butler-Henderson in thirteenth and James Kaye in fourteenth.
Team Honda driver Tom Chilton received a penalty for missing the weighscales on the way into the pits. His lap times up to that point were dropped – he was running in seventh place at the time and fell back to twentieth. However his first flying lap after the penalty was good enough for fifth place and he remained there for the rest of the session.
Neal was the first of the leading drivers to return to the track and he improved his time to move up to fourth place. Thompson then improved on his leading time a tenth of a second to open the gap between him and team-mate Muller to three tenths of a second. Reid also put in a fast lap to improve his third place time although he lost a fraction of a second by running over the kerbs in the final chicane.
Jason Plato put in a strong performance in his SEAT Toledo Cupra to take seventh place with a lap just one second off the pace, and his team-mate Robert Huff was in eleventh place half a second further back. Both cars returned to the pits before the end of the session and stopped early.
Muller took to the track for a final assault on pole position with Thompson following him by half a lap in case he needed to defend his position. Muller improved on his first flying lap to be just 0.053 seconds behind Thompson but he backed off and returned to the pits. “It’s the best place to start”, said James Thompson. “It’s nice to start as we mean to carry on.”
There was a lot of kerb-hopping in the closing minutes with Neal, Chilton and Butler-Henderson all having airborne moments. No-one improved towards the end of the session and Thompson held on to take pole position ahead of team-mate Muller, Reid in third, Neal in fourth and Chilton in fifth.
1. James Thompson 1:16.747
2. Yvan Muller 1:16.800
3. Anthony Reid 1:17.385
4. Matt Neal 1:17.479
5. Tom Chilton 1:17.593
6. Colin Turkington 1:17.654
7. Michael Bentwood: 1:17.787
8. Jason Plato 1:17.845
9. Luke Hines 1:17.928
10. Dan Eaves 1:18.105