BTCC: Mondello qualifying notes

Muller blasts to Mondello pole with record lap. Yvan Muller has qualified in pole position for tomorrow's (Easter Monday) opening round of 2003 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship at Mondello Park, Ireland. In cool and overcast ...

Muller blasts to Mondello pole with record lap.

Yvan Muller has qualified in pole position for tomorrow's (Easter Monday) opening round of 2003 Green Flag MSA British Touring Car Championship at Mondello Park, Ireland.

In cool and overcast conditions, Muller, the championship runner-up for Vauxhall Racing the past two seasons, set a best lap time of one minute, 45.651 seconds in his Vauxhall Astra Coupe - over a second inside the pole position record he set last year.

"The car has been working perfectly for all of the session," said Frenchman Muller. "The team have done a fantastic job and this is a result of all the hard work they have done in the winter. This is my way of saying 'thank you' to them. However, qualifying is one thing. Now, we have to do the rest of the job and win tomorrow."

Honda Racing's Matt Neal, in his Honda Civic Type-R, and MG Sport & Racing's Anthony Reid, in his MG ZS, qualified second and third fastest to make it three different manufacturers in the top three places on the starting grid.

Reigning champion, Muller's team-mate James Thompson, was fourth fastest after earlier having his lap times annulled when his Astra Coupe failed a ride height check in the pit lane.

Rob Collard, in his Collard Racing Vauxhall Astra Coupe, became the fastest Independents Cup driver, in 11th, but only after GA Motorsports^Ò Gavin Pyper, who had lapped quicker in his similar car, lost all his times for failing a ride height check at the end of qualifying and has been demoted to the back of the Touring class grid.

Independents champion Dan Eaves qualified his brand new Team Halfords Peugeot 307, which only turned a wheel for the first time in morning practice, 15th fastest, but there were technical problems for his team-mate Carl Breeze who will have to start next to last on the Touring class grid.

Luke Hines, meanwhile, had to pull out all the stops to emerge as the fastest Production runner in his Barwell Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R, for just 4/10ths of a second behind was Team Varta's Jim Edwards Junior in his Honda Accord.

Michael Bentwood, who had been the fastest Production driver in both morning practice sessions, qualified third in class in his Edenbridge Racing BMW 320i.

All the latest BTCC news from Mondello Park and away from the race meetings can be found on the championship's official website, www.tocatour.co.uk

-cc-

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Series BTCC
Drivers Anthony Reid , Yvan Muller , Dan Eaves , James Thompson , Jim Edwards , Carl Breeze , Matt Neal , Rob Collard , Luke Hines , Michael Bentwood