BTCC: Muller takes Mondello pole with new track record

Yvan Muller broke the lap record to put his VX Racing Vauxhall Astra on pole position for round one of the 2003 British Touring Car Championship at Mondello Park in Ireland. He lines up ahead of Matt Neal (Honda Racing) in second, Anthony Reid (MG...

Yvan Muller broke the lap record to put his VX Racing Vauxhall Astra on pole position for round one of the 2003 British Touring Car Championship at Mondello Park in Ireland. He lines up ahead of Matt Neal (Honda Racing) in second, Anthony Reid (MG Sport) in third and teammate James Thompson in fourth. The 20-minute session allowed most drivers to complete around eight or nine laps but there will still plenty of drama and action.

Muller's record-breaking lap was set on his first flying lap. After a slow warm-up lap the Frenchman nailed the perfect lap and was unable to get near it for the rest of the session. Muller's lap was timely as, soon afterwards, Tom Chilton (Honda Racing Civic Type R) spun off into the gravel at Sport Ireland Bend (turn four) ten minutes into the session which caused a five-minute stoppage. During this time Colin Turkington (MG Sport), who had just returned to the pits after setting his fastest lap, suffered an overheating engine and was forced to retire.

Alan Morrison (Honda Racing) was on a fast run when the session was stopped and was probably the biggest loser of the red flag as he was unable to match his pace at the restart. James Thompson, however, was immediately on the pace and moved up to second. Reid responded with a lap that was 0.032 seconds faster and then Matt Neal went faster than both of them to move up to second. Warren Hughes couldn't match his MG teammate's time and finished the session in sixth place.

"The car has been working perfectly for all of the session," said 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."

The race for round one of the championship will take place at 12.55 on Easter Monday. The starting grid for the second race will be determined by the finishing order from the first race and the race will take place at 16.05.

Qualifying Results:
1 Yvan Muller (VX Racing) 1:45.651
2 Matt Neal (Honda Racing) 1:46.016
3 Anthony Reid (MG Sport) 1:46.240
4 James Thompson (VX Racing) 1:46.272
5 Alan Morrison (Honda Racing) 1:46.560
6 Warren Hughes (MG Sport) 1:46.566

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Anthony Reid , Yvan Muller , Alan Morrison , Tom Chilton , James Thompson , Warren Hughes , Matt Neal