For the second time in a week Tom Chilton took his LPG-powered Team Aon Ford Focus to pole position; this time at Brands Hatch with a stunning lap that set a new qualifying lap record around the GP loop. D?j? vu for Chilton, after taking...
For the second time in a week Tom Chilton took his LPG-powered Team Aon Ford Focus to pole position; this time at Brands Hatch with a stunning lap that set a new qualifying lap record around the GP loop.
Chilton, who started on pole for this race in 2009 and held pole last week at Rockingham, was quickest in the first practice session of the day and was only beaten in the second session by his own team mate. No one could get near the Ford driver though in qualifying and a delighted Chilton said after, "That was like a lap from the gods! The car out the back on the GP loop was right on the limit but so fast. I'm also confident that we can run the same set-up for the races but we'll take a call in the morning - it could be wet and, out of all the days of testing we did pre-season, none were wet."
Joining Chilton on the front row of the grid will be the Honda Racing Civic driven by Gordon Shedden. Proving that the Honda perhaps at the moment have the best all round package was double Rockingham winner Matt Neal who qualified in fourth.
The Civic went through a major development over the winter months and now at last looks to be a major threat for the championship.
In between the two Honda's and starting third will be star of qualifying James Nash. Nash will be racing for the second weekend for Triple Eight in an all black non-liveried Vauxhall Vectra.
Nash said after qualifying, "I think my car will be kinder on its tyres compared to the Fords and Hondas so if I can hang on to them I'll be hoping to charge back after them in the closing stages."
Rounding out the top 6 is Rob Collard, who has qualified his WSR BMW inside the top 10 for the first time this season, and youngster Alex MacDowall, who for the second race running has out qualified his Silverline Chevrolet team mate Jason Plato who starts 7th.
Plato had a frustrating day with mechanical failure in free practice 1 limiting him to just 5 laps in the whole session while he was in and out of the pits in free practice 2.
Qualifying inside the top 10 for the third race running will be Andrew Jordan in his NGTC turbo powered Pirtek Racing Vectra.
Jordan's qualifying came to a premature end when he spun his Vectra at Clark Curve eliminating him from the session. Jordan also had another moment there in free practice 2 but was able to go through the gravel and recover without too many issues.
Ninth on the grid will be probably the most disappointed man on the grid Tom Onslow-Cole in the second Team Aon Focus.
Onslow-Cole set the fastest lap in free practice 2 but, just like last time at Brands Hatch, the former Clio champion's Ford failed the ride hide meaning all his times up to that point were disallowed. By the time the Focus had passed the relevant checks there were just 5 minutes remaining for him to set a lap.
Rounding out the top 10 will be current independent points leader Paul O'Neill in his sunshine.co.uk techspeed Honda Integra fresh from his superb second place at Rockingham.
Just outside the top 10, in 11th will be Tom Boardman in his Special Tuning UK Seat Leon who starts just ahead of Dave Pinkney.
Pinkney's team had to work hard just to get the car on the grid for this weekend following a battle scarred third race at Rockingham, which left the team with plenty of work to do.
Even today Pinkney had a real up and down day. The day started in good fashion for the elder statesman of the BTCC who finished a brilliant 4th in free practice 1. He then had less to celebrate in free practice 2 when his gearbox failed grinding his Vectra to a sudden halt, whilst he also had a couple of spins during the session as well.
Most disappointed team of the day is surely current HiQ teams leader Airwaves BMW who will start down in 13th and 14th position with Mat Jackson ahead of his teammate Stephen Kane.
Team boss Dave Bartrum though refuses to be down beat and said, "We need to work hard overnight to really sort the problem and it's clear there is one as Mat and Steven were almost identical on time which shows there is nothing more to come from the car as it is. We think we know what the cause is - it's just a matter of being right and then putting it right. I anticipate we will race very well - they've both got excellent race craft, although there are a few drivers in front of them who, shall we say, can be very difficult to overtake if they feel like it. As my teacher at Wrotham junior school used to put on my reports, 'must do better'!"
Next up is another driver who got people talking, Matt Hamilton in his TH Motorsport Honda Civic. Just like last year around the GP circuit Hamilton has managed to out qualify more established drivers and will start tomorrows race in 15th.
Just behind Hamilton will be the second WSR BMW of Andy Neate. Neate looked to be getting the hang of touring car racing with a good display in the final race at Rockingham but will be disappointed with 16th and suffered a spin in free practice 2 which brought out the red flags.
Then comes BTCC debutant Lea Woods in his Central Group Racing Honda Integra, who put in a great display to out qualify the second sunshine.co.uk Integra John George, who had a very gravely moment at Paddock Hill bend which damaged his front bumper.
Behind the two Integra's will be Shaun Hollamby in his AmD VW Golf, which is showing a lot more promise in both speed and reliability.
Next up are the two Forster Motorsport BMWs, although surprisingly another BTCC debutant Martin Depper is ahead of his team mate Arthur Forster. Lining up on the final position of the 22-car grid will be a very disappointed Martin Johnson in his Vauxhall Astra Coupe perhaps still celebrating his fine 9th from Rockingham.
Today's qualifying took part in dry weather although there were rain showers during the day. The weather looks less kind for tomorrow with heavy showers expected.
So with the rain expected to add another dimension to what already promises to be an action packed race weekend, be sure to return following the day's action for full review and images on motorsport.com.