Oulton Park BTCC: Neal secures back-to-back poles
Three-time champion Matt Neal will start the opening BTCC race at Oulton Park from pole position for the second meeting in succession.
The Team Dynamics Honda driver backed up his Thruxton performance two weeks ago with another fastest time. He clocked a 1m26.151s lap during the 30-minute timed session, which was interrupted late on by a red flag.
Neal will start ahead of the WSR BMW of Andrew Jordan, while the second row will be shared between Aiden Moffat (Laser Tools Racing Mercedes) and Colin Turkington (WSR BMW).
Neal, who had topped the timesheets in the damp second free practice session too, said he was delighted with the performance, but was wary about the rear-wheel-drive BMWs so close to him in the starting line-up.
“The car felt great all the way through,” said Neal, whose last back-to-back poles were in 2011. “It is going to be tough with the rear-wheel-drive cars beside us, and I still think I will be third into the first corner because there is quite a drag to Old Hall, but it has given us a fighting chance.
“We have been quick in the wet here and quick in the dry, so the car is the complete package. I am very optimistic.”
The session had been stopped when Matt Simpson, in a sister Honda to Neal, crashed coming out of the Druids corner and made contact with the barrier on the inside of the circuit. That left all runners with a five-minute blast at the end to improve times.
Turkington’s run to fourth spot came on the very last lap, as the WSR team was searching for a cure to a misfire that had blighted his running.
“We didn’t really get to the bottom of it,” explained the Northern Irishman. “It was misfiring at the top end of every gear, so I was just shifting up early to around it.”
Behind Turkington, reigning champion Gordon Shedden, carrying 66kg of success ballast, was fifth in his Team Dynamics Honda, despite a small off at Cascades early on in the session.
Ash Sutton was the leading Team BMR Subaru again in sixth position. All of the Subarus and Fords in the championship have been granted an increase in turbo boost allowance by series technical bosses after a technical waiver ahead of the meeting.
That helped Motorbase Performance driver Mat Jackson to seventh spot, ahead of Josh Cook (Maximum Motorsport Ford Focus) and Rob Collard (WSR BMW). The Power Maxed Vauxhall of Senna Proctor rounded out the top 10.
Championship leader Tom Ingram, who is carrying the maximum 75kg of success ballast, was 12th in the Speedworks Motorsport Toyota.
Thruxton BTCC: Turkington takes BMW's 100th win in Race 3
Oulton Park BTCC: Jordan holds off Neal for victory