VX Racing Weighed Down in Qualifying Saturday 24 April 2004, Brands Hatch--//VX Racing today paid the penalty for success in the opening rounds of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship. Qualifying times reflected the level of...
VX Racing Weighed Down in Qualifying
Saturday 24 April 2004, Brands Hatch--//VX Racing today paid the penalty for success in the opening rounds of the Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship. Qualifying times reflected the level of success ballast carried by James Thompson and Yvan Muller. Thompson qualified in third place, with Muller in seventh and tem-mate Luke Hines back in tenth position for the first of tomorrow's three races.
Regular front row slots for VX Racing were replaced with mid-field position for the Vauxhall works drivers, which will challenge their driving skills and promises excellent racing for the spectators. Success ballast played a crucial part in a closely fought qualifying session with the battle for pole eventually being won by Colin Turkington in the MG ZS.
The VX Racing drivers were quickly on the qualifying pace, with Hines posting the fourth quickest time in the opening laps of the session, and Thompson jumping to the top spot after completing just four laps. Thompson held off all but Turkington, until the closing stages when Michael Bentwood in the VX Racing Junior Vauxhall Astra Coupe, pipped him to the front row.
The three VX Racing drivers used the two morning practice sessions to fine-tune their Vauxhall Astra Coupes. In the first session all three drivers had a clear run with Thompson and Muller posting the third and fourth quickest times respectively. The second session was stopped after just one lap while the stricken SEAT of Rob Huff was recovered. Despite recording the quickest time of the session Thompson was unable to drive back to the pits as rare mechanical problems in the closing stages resulted in a spectacular fiery trail. Thanks to swift work from the VX Racing team Thompson's car was back on track and running smoothly for the qualifying session.
James Thompson, Car No. 2
It's very close, and always was going to be around here. It's difficult carrying the weight as well. I'm disappointed to be pipped off the front row, I was happy to be second, but third makes it a bit trickier at the first corner. I'm pretty happy, if you look at other cars carrying ballast, they are further down the grid. I had no reoccurrence of the earlier mechanical problems, and the engine seemed to be running smoothly, so it's fingers crossed for the races tomorrow.
Yvan Muller, Car No. 1
"If you look at the result, it is quite logical. The ballast cost us a lot. The only comparison I can really make is with Jimmy (James Thompson) and he is 24 kilos lighter and only one and a half tenths quicker than me. When you compare the difference of 24 kilos and one and a half tenths it's not that much, the problem is that there are five cars in one and a half tenths and that give me a bad position on the grid. In terms of time it is not a problem - it is to be expected."
Luke Hines, Car No. 3
"It's not really the result I wanted, but it was so close out there. If you lost just a fraction of a second it was the difference between a few places. The car is running well, and I'm pleased with that. I've just got to get my head down and push as hard as I can tomorrow."
Mike Nicholson, VX Racing Operations Manager:
"What can I say? I've said before that the weight was going to hurt us here. In fact we should re-write the song, instead of 'Love Hurts' it should be 'Weight Hurts'. The grid looks very good from a racing point of view, we're a bit disappointed. Having said that two of our cars are carrying a lot of weight, and Yvan is only three tenths off pole position with all that extra weight. We can't complain, and it certainly makes for good racing tomorrow. We're just not used to seeing our cars not on the front row. I have to make special mention of Michael Bentwood; he has done a fantastic job in the VX Racing Junior car."