Chilton Flies To Knockhill Pole As Wrathall And Austin Shine

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Tom Chilton stormed to the first British Touring Car Championship pole position for the new Ford Focus in qualifying at Knockhill, while Frank Wrathall and Rob Austin took their NGTC cars to third and fourth on the grid respectively.

The session began with local hero Gordon Shedden as favourite for the pole position in his Honda, having topped both of the morning practice sessions. Indeed, the Scot held provisional pole early on in the session.

Chilton then moved ahead shortly before the red flag came out after John George came to a halt. The red flags were back out around five minutes after the restart when Chilton's teammate Andy Neate went off into the gravel.

Chilton kept hold of top spot until the red flags came out for a third and final time, when Paul O'Neill went off. There were seven minutes remaining when the session restarted, and Chilton improved his time to secure pole position. This has been the best showing yet from Team Aon‘s new Focus, which hasn’t finished on the podium since Chilton finished third in the first race of the season at Brands Hatch.

While Chilton was 0.202 seconds clear of anyone else, the times were very close behind him. Matt Neal held onto second place, but he was only 0.021s clear of Wrathall in the Dynojet Toyota Avensis. Wrathall took third place in the closing stages when he edged out Austin's Audi A4 by just 0.005s.

Shedden had to settle for fifth, 0.071s behind Austin and 0.04s ahead of Jason Plato. Similarly small gaps covered championship leader Mat Jackson in seventh, Alex MacDowall in eighth and Tom Onslow-Cole in ninth. Rob Collard rounded out the top ten in his WSR BMW.

Andrew Jordan and James Nash had disappointing sessions in the Vauxhall Vectras, and will line up 11th and 12th respectively. Tom Boardman was 13th, just ahead of O'Neill, debutant Aron Smith and Daniel Welch, who couldn't repeat his pace in the damp from this morning in the new Proton.

Click here for full qualifying times

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Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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