In a session full of deleted times, many held their breath as Matt Neal broke the qualifying lap record for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship around Thruxton. Luckily for the Halfords Yuasa Racing man, his time stood and he duly took his first pole position of the season.
With a 1:15.612, Matt was four tenths ahead of his qualifying record last year and also two tenths of a second ahead of Team BMW driver Colin Turkington who has been quick all weekend so far.
The front row of the grid is an anomaly in regards to this season where many have pointed out that it’s the young guns who are taking over the leading pack of the BTCC. Matt Neal and Colin Turkington proving with certain circuits that experience does help out.
Third came Wix Racing with Eurotech driver Brett Smith who takes the best grid position in his career so far. Following up from his best race finish of fourth at Donington, Brett will certainly be mindful of a clean start to also gain his first podium position of his career in the series.
Brett told btcc.net, “I knew coming into this weekend that Thruxton would be my best chance for a podium so far. This has always been a Honda circuit – it tends to favour front-wheel drive anyway, but I think the Honda is the best chassis on the grid – and I’m chuffed to bits with P3”
Dan Cammish will line-up fourth ahead of Senna Proctor in fifth and championship leader Tom Ingram with maximum ballast in sixth.
Seventh and eighth come the Ford duo of Sam Tordoff and Tom Chilton. Tom’s Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher team-mate James Cole lines up a disappointing twentieth after having his fastest time deleted. Team GardX Racing with Motorbase driver Tordoff doesn’t line up on the first two rows for the first time this season, whether the speed and luck sacrificed on the Saturday will mean there is some left over for the Sunday remains to be seen.
The second fastest rear wheel drive car of Andrew Jordan will start the first race in ninth while the continually improving BTC Norlin Racing driver Chris Smiley will start in the top ten for the second weekend in a row.
In a session blighted by track limit infringements, it was a wonder that all drivers managed to set a time. Alas it was possible to be clean and quick as Neal proved. This sets up a wonderful Sunday at Thruxton during another hot and bright day.
|17th||Rob Austin||Alfa Romeo||+1.029|