BTCC: Thruxton qualifying

British Touring Car Championship Official qualifying, Thruxton, April 12 RYDELL SETS THE PACE AT THRUXTON Volvo's Rickard Rydell set a blistering pace at Thruxton this afternoon (Sun) in official qualifying for the twin opening rounds of...

British Touring Car Championship Official qualifying, Thruxton, April 12

RYDELL SETS THE PACE AT THRUXTON

Volvo's Rickard Rydell set a blistering pace at Thruxton this afternoon (Sun) in official qualifying for the twin opening rounds of the 1998 Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship, the Swede snatching pole position for both of tomorrow's races.

Rydell also set a stunning new qualifying lap record for the Hampshire track of 1m 15.603s - at an average speed of 112.18mph it was the fastest ever Super Touring qualifying lap in Britain. Said Rickard: "It's a great way to start the season. I wasn't so confident after testing in the week - I thought third would be about the best we could manage, so I'm pleased. We made some changes to the car and it's better aerodynamically."

The Super Swede started the day by outpacing the Nissan of Anthony Reid and the Renault of reigning champion Alain Menu to earn pole position for tomorrow's Feature Race. Then, in the new 'One-Shot Showdown' qualifying procedure for the Sprint Race, he went faster still to outgun Honda's James Thompson and Renault driver Jason Plato.

First serious casualty of the One-Shot Showdown procedure was Menu, whose time of 1m 15.586s was disallowed after stewards ruled he had "straightlined" the chicane on his hot lap. The Swiss will have to line up for the Sprint Race at the back of the grid along with several other drivers whose times were disallowed after their cars failed post-qualifying ride-height checks.

"It is fair enough," said Menu. "Rules are rules, and I did go straight on at the chicane. I made a mistake at the previous corner and when I got to the chicane the brake pedal went to the floor..."

Notable performances today came from independent Nissan runner Matt Neal, who will line up on the third row of the grid for the Sprint Race - ahead of the works Primeras.

There were major problems for Tim Harvey, who crashed his Peugeot early today and missed most of the first session. He fought back to 18th-best in second qualifying only to have his time disallowed.

The Audi team struggled also, Yvan Muller scraping into the top 10 for the Sprint Race but team-mate John Bintcliffe was well off the pace after his mid-week testing accidents.

Auto Trader RAC British Touring Car Championship Official qualifying / Thruxton, Hampshire / 12 April 1998

Qualifying times for Round 2 1 Rickard Rydell SWE Volvo S40 1:15.786s 111.91mph 2 Anthony Reid GB Nissan Primera 1:16.182s 3 Alain Menu SWI Renault Laguna 1:16.345s 4 James Thompson GB Honda Accord 1:16.581s 5 David Leslie GB Nissan Primera 1:16.626s 6 Jason Plato GB Renault Laguna 1:16.716s 7 John Cleland GB Vauxhall Vectra 1:16.835s 8 Derek Warwick GB Vauxhall Vectra 1:17.021s 9 Peter Kox NL Honda Accord 1:17.259s 10 Paul Radisich NZ Peugeot 406 1:17.415s

Qualifying times for Round 1 1 Rydell 1:15.603s 2 Thompson 1:16.630s 3 Plato 1:16.680s 4 Gianni Morbidelli ITA Volvo S40 1:16.873s 5 Matt Neal GB Nissan Primera 1:16.887s 6 Kox 1:17.095s 7 Leslie 1:17.097s 8 Cleland 1:17.099s 9 Reid 1:17.117s 10 Yvan Muller FRA Audi A4 1:17.462s

-- Official BTCC website www.btcc.co.uk

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Series BTCC
Drivers Anthony Reid , Peter Kox , Yvan Muller , Tim Harvey , David Leslie , James Thompson , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , Paul Radisich , John Cleland , Rickard Rydell , Gianni Morbidelli , Derek Warwick , Alain Menu