BTCC: VX Racing Brands Hatch qualifying report

Reigning BTCC Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi starts from second place on the grid tomorrow at Brands Hatch CHAMPIONS IN GOOD SHAPE AS TITLE DEFENCE BEGINS Soggy weather conditions at Brands Hatch were not enough to dampen the spirits of VX...

Reigning BTCC Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi starts from second place on the grid tomorrow at Brands Hatch

CHAMPIONS IN GOOD SHAPE AS TITLE DEFENCE BEGINS

Soggy weather conditions at Brands Hatch were not enough to dampen the spirits of VX Racing in a thrilling first qualifying session of the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

The reigning drivers and manufacturers champions were competitive throughout, with Fabrizio Giovanardi, Tom Onslow-Cole and Matt Neal finishing second, fifth and tenth respectively in the Vectra VXR. The session featured non-stop changes to grid positions thanks to a fast-drying track and a red flag with 11 minutes to go.

Following the short stoppage to recover the stricken car of Martyn Bell from Paddock Hill Bend, there was a flurry of action as the VX Racing drivers battled to take advantage of the improving conditions.

The 2007 BTCC Champion Giovanardi put in a stunning performance securing an important front-row starting spot just before the session was red-flagged for a second time with just over one minute to go, to begin the defence of his crown.

The first of three races at the Kent circuit will start at 11.30am tomorrow (Sunday).

Fabrizio Giovanardi #1

"My front tyres didn't work well earlier in the session, so I immediately changed to slicks. As soon as the tyres were changed I set the second fastest time.

"I'm really happy to be second on the grid because it's a better side to start on than pole position. I don't think I can overtake the BMW at the start, but I'm sure we can give them a run for their money throughout the race."

Tom Onslow-Cole #10

"The session was constantly changing and although we could have possibly gone a bit quicker, we did a great job to hold fifth position. This was my first time in the wet in the Vectra VXR and I'm really happy how the car handled.

"I'm in a SEAT sandwich at the start and I think they will be quite quick off the line, but I'm confident once we get underway that we'll hunt them down."

Matt Neal #4

"I had an oil-leak problem on my cooler and I also had a brief off earlier in the session and damaged the front bumper of my car. Once the team fixed these issues I went out on slicks but it was too early because by the time the track was dried my tyres had passed their best.

"I've got it all to play for tomorrow, I know my car is good and I can attack."

-credit: vxr.co.uk.

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Series BTCC