BTCC: Thruxton qualifying report

Neal & Thompson head Thruxton qualifying Honda's Matt Neal will start tomorrow's (Monday) fifth round of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship from pole position after setting the fastest time in today's (Sunday) qualifying...

Neal & Thompson head Thruxton qualifying

Honda's Matt Neal will start tomorrow's (Monday) fifth round of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship from pole position after setting the fastest time in today's (Sunday) qualifying session ahead of reigning champion James Thompson in his Vauxhall. GA Motorsports' Gavin Pyper was the fastest Hilton Independents Trophy qualifier in sixth, while Team Varta's Tom Boardman headed the Production class runners.

Neal, looking super-smooth behind the wheel of his Civic Type-R, set his pole position lap of one minute, 18.024 seconds early into the 20-minute session. It briefly looked like it would be an all-Honda front row as his team-mate Alan Morrison moved into second, but, with just under five minutes to go, he was pipped by Thompson's Astra Coupe.

"It was a very good lap," said Neal, who won after starting from pole at Brands Hatch three weeks ago. He added: "The Civic felt really strong around the lap and everything came right. Of course, you always feel like you have a little bit more time up your sleeve but you never know just how much the others have in reserve as well, but P1 is always nice."

Championship leader, Vauxhall's Yvan Muller, who had been fastest in both practice sessions held earlier in the day, qualified fourth fastest. Vauxhall's Paul O'Neill and GA's Pyper, also in an Astra Coupe, completed the top six.

Sharing the fourth row of the grid having set identical qualifying times will be MG's Colin Turkington in his ZS and Honda's Tom Chilton. Hilton Independents Trophy leader Rob Collard, eager to maintain his advantage over rival Pyper, will line up ninth in his Astra Coupe ahead of MG's Anthony Reid and Warren Hughes.

Hilton Independents Trophy runners James Kaye, in Synchro Honda Racing's Civic Type-R, and Carl Breeze and Dan Eaves, in their Team Halfords Peugeot 307s, completed the Touring class qualifiers. But there was a disaster for Proton. Phil Bennett was forced to park his Impian at Goodwood after it shed a rear wheel on its first lap and, right at the end of qualifying, team-mate David Leslie's times were disallowed when his car was judged to be underweight. Both will make up the rear of the Touring class grid in 15th and 16th places.

Team Varta's Tom Boardman continued his strong morning practice form to head the Production class field in his Peugeot 307 ahead of points leader Michael Bentwood's Edenbridge Racing BMW 320i.

Barwell Motorsport's Luke Hines had lay second but his times were annulled half way through the session after he missed a weighbridge check and had to begin again. In the dying moments, he managed to get up to third in class, only to be demoted again to the back of the grid after his team were judged to have changed his car's engine just prior to qualifying.

Jim Edwards, second in class to Bentwood in Team Varta's Honda Accord, Barwell's Alan Blencowe and the GA Alfa Romeo 156 of Paul Wallace completed the Production runners.

-btcc-

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