Thompson Smashes Lap Record For Pole With VX Racing Saturday 10 April, Thruxton.../Reigning BTCC champion, Yvan Muller, fired the first warning shot to rivals in morning practice at the opening round of the 2004 British Touring Car ...
Thompson Smashes Lap Record For Pole With VX Racing
Saturday 10 April, Thruxton.../Reigning BTCC champion, Yvan Muller, fired the first warning shot to rivals in morning practice at the opening round of the 2004 British Touring Car Championship as he blitzed the opposition with the fastest-ever touring car lap at Thruxton, recording a time of
1 minute 16.868, but it was James Thompson who snatched the record in afternoon qualifying, ending the day as the fastest man at Thruxton, and securing pole position for the first race tomorrow with a blistering lap of 1:16.747 seconds.
"Last year we had a good run of pole positions, six out of ten weekends, so it's good to start this year as we mean to go on. " said Thompson. Muller lines up alongside Thompson after turning a lap only five hundredths of a second slower than his team-mate. VX Racing's newest driver, Luke Hines, recorded ninth fastest time to take a spot on the fifth row of tomorrow's season opening grid.
Hines was first out in qualifying to set the pace for the BTCC field, but it wasn't long before team-mate Thompson headed the times -- and smashed the lap record set by Muller that morning! Quickly eclipsing this time with another lap record, Thompson held off the competition right through the session. Despite fierce competition from the MG of Reid and the Honda's of Matt Neal and Tom Chilton, Muller joined Thompson on the front row.
The three VX Racing drivers used the two morning practice sessions to fine tune their set-ups for both qualifying and race laps. In the first session all three drivers scrubbed tyres, adjusted the balance of their cars and prepared for the weekend ahead. For the second session Thompson concentrated on race set up, while Muller, after an early puncture, put on new tyres, and flew to a new BTCC lap record (to be broken later by Thompson). Third driver, Hines, experiencing his debut race weekend for VX Racing, shadowed the more experienced duo throughout, ending his second practice session just behind Thompson in fifth place.
James Thompson, Car No. 2: "
I'm a bit surprised to be P1, as we've mainly been working on race set-up, but we thought we'd see if we could pull something out of the bag and we did, so I'm really chuffed. Last year we had a good sequence of poles, but our race set-up let us down a few times, which is why we've focused on the race. It seems that we haven't lost our touch with qualifying though! As for tomorrow, we hope we can continue from here, but Yvan is very strong in race trim, so it's going to be tough and we should have some interesting dicing, and I think some of the other cars are strong as well - we'll see tomorrow."
Yvan Muller, Car No.1:
"My second run was a bit quicker than my other laps, but I think I was a bit too optimistic in Church corner, so I ran a bit wide. On my third run I was a bit too conservative, - 500th's too conservative! For the race tomorrow, we should be okay and I think we'll have the pace we need. It's the beginning of the season -- anything can happen."
Luke Hines, Car No.57:
"I'm a bit disappointed as I thought I could be quicker and further towards the front of the grid. For the second run I had a lot of traffic and couldn't get the space I needed on track, but I've learnt and I know for next time. It's made it a bit harder for me in the race, but I have the car to be able to get to the front, I'll just have to put my head down and make my way forward."
Mike Nicholson, VX Racing Operations Manager:
"All the hard work over the winter seems to have paid off. When you're testing nobody knows the setups, who's running with ballast, or the fuel levels. We thought the car had moved forward and it has, and he we are back on the front row again. Having said that the MG's and Honda's are not far behind and they have obviously made a step forward as well. We should be providing a great spectacle for the fans at Thruxton and those watching live on ITV."