Matt Neal secured his 18th career pole position in qualifying for the BTCC at Thruxton with a record-breaking lap in his Team Dynamics Honda.
The three-time champion was locked in a fierce fight with the WSR BMW of Colin Turkington as the two chased top slot, setting lap times that were way below the previous qualifying benchmark which was set by Neal in 2017. The previous time was 1m16.040s, but Neal’s new mark was 1m15.612s.
Neal set the time in the latter stages of the 30-minute session and, despite returning to the track, Turkington was unable to oust his foe.
“I had to lay it all on the line for that lap,” said Neal. “I knew they were going to be really hot on drivers who exceeded the track limits here, so I got a banker lap in first and then I really went for it on the second lap. It came off, and I will take it. I am certainly going to celebrate that one tonight.”
Turkington had to settle for second place on the grid in his rear-wheel-drive BMW, which also broke the 1m16s barrier with a 1m15.847s lap.
Dan Cammish put his Team Dynamics Honda in third place, but his time was deleted as he was adjudged to have overstepped the track limits. He returned to the track to set a better lap, which was enough to haul him back to fourth place behind the Eurotech Honda of Brett Smith.
Round two winner Senna Proctor will spearhead the third row of the grid in his Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall ahead of points leader Tom Ingram in the Speedworks Toyota.
Ingram had earlier been in fourth but he had a lap time removed too for a track limits infringement.
The top 10 was completed by the Motorbase Performance Ford pair of Sam Tordoff and Tom Chilton, Andrew Jordan (WSR BMW) and Chris Smiley (BTC Norlin Honda)
Reigning champion Ash Sutton struggled all day in the Team BMR car and will start in 18th place as the leading Subaru.