Thruxton: Series qualifying report

FAST STARTING GORDON SHEDDEN GRABS POLE POSITION FOR SEASON OPENER AT THRUXTON Gordon Shedden, 2010, Honda Civic, Thruxton Qualifying "Flash' Gordon Shedden has qualified on pole position on the grid for the first round of this year's Dunlop MSA...

FAST STARTING GORDON SHEDDEN GRABS POLE POSITION FOR SEASON OPENER AT THRUXTON

Gordon Shedden, 2010, Honda Civic, Thruxton Qualifying "Flash' Gordon Shedden has qualified on pole position on the grid for the first round of this year's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship to be staged at the super-fast Thruxton circuit on Easter Sunday.

The Scot, driving his Honda Racing Team Honda Civic, overcame tricky wet conditions to set a best lap time of 1m 24.061s to achieve pole position and with it score a bonus point that puts him into a very early championship lead.

"That's the hardest point I've ever scored," admitted Shedden who never experienced the flat-out sweeps of the notorious Hampshire circuit in wet conditions before this morning's damp opening Free Practice session. "I managed to get a good clean lap and it's great to be starting from front. Whatever the weather conditions tomorrow, there's going to be lots of excitement, so to be starting with a clear track ahead is the best position to be in."

Shedden will be joined on the front row by Fabrizio Giovanardi. The Italian touring car legend seemed destined to miss this year's BTCC after Vauxhall withdrew its official factory team at the end of 2009. However the Triple Eight team, which fielded the works Vectras in recent seasons, put together a last-minute deal to keep the 2007 and 2008 champion in the series.

Despite missing all the pre-season testing, Giovanardi maximised his huge experience and was disappointed not to be fastest. "I don't like to be second," he said. "The car had the potential to be on pole but we had a small gearbox issue when the track was less wet and, by the time we had sorted that out, there were puddles on sections of the circuit."

Adding to Honda's delight, Shedden's team-mate Matt Neal qualified third to make it two Honda Civics in the top three. "It's a brilliant start for the team to have both cars right up at the sharp end," enthused the 2005 and 2006 champion. "It's going to be pretty fraught tomorrow but the Civic feels good in the wet and the dry, so we're ready and confident whatever the weather."

Next up was an impressive Andrew Jordan whose Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra is debuting the new NGTC engine, a turbocharged power plant being introduced by the series organisers to reduce costs. Completing the top six was many people's pre-season favourite Jason Plato in his new Silverline Chevrolet Cruze and Tom Chilton who is giving the LPG propelled Team Aon Ford Focus is first outing in this holiday weekend's opening round of the UK's premier motor racing championship.

Tomorrow's three races will be shown live tomorrow on the ITV4 TV channel during a mammoth broadcast from 11.30am-6.00pm.

-source: btcc

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Series BTCC
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Tom Chilton , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , Gordon Shedden , Andrew Jordan