All Ford front row at Croft

Ford continued to dominate at the top of the British Touring Car Championship after Rickard Rydell grabbed pole for tomorrow's BTCC feature race at Croft today (Saturday), with a lap almost half a second faster than anyone else could manage. The Mondeos have been the car to beat thus far this season and with Rydell and team-mate Anthony Reid in the top two positions, the pair continued to prove the Prodrive-prepared Fords were the class of the field

All Ford front row at Croft

"It was a good lap," commented the Swede. "I had a good balance on the car, and that's hard to find here at Croft with its mix of fast and slow corners. Of course I've got no extra ballast which helps, but I 'd far rather have that 40 kilos and the win and second place I should have got at Silverstone."

Anthony Reid was pleased to have set second fastest time despite carrying 30kg of ballast, though he reckoned he could have been closer to his team-mate had he found a clear lap late in the session.

Tom Kristensen had better luck and was more successful in avoiding the traffic. Fresh from his Le Mans triumph, the Dane was third quickest for Honda and praised the West Surrey Racing team, for effective use of the limited availability of new tyres. Late in the session the West Surrey squad gave him new front tyres and swapped the rear tyres side to side. "It worked really well," said Kristensen.

Jason Plato had posted the fastest time of the day during Friday's test session but was unable to carry his speed through to qualifying due to mechanical problems. He managed only the eighth fastest time, as after just one flying lap on scrubbed tyres, his Vectra engine cut out.

"The ECU just shut down," explained the Englishman. "You've just got to be philosophical about these things. It's something that's never happened before so we're trying to find out why it happened. I know my luck's going to change sometime. I just hope it's before I'm 40."

There seemed to be an abundant lack of luck all round as far as the Triple Eight team were concerned. Plato's team mates Yvan Muller and Vincent Radermecker were unable to fire-up their Vectras after stopping for the weight and ride-height check. What is more a team error then the cars drove straight through the next check meaning their times were then disallowed.

"We screwed up," admitted team boss Ian Harrison. The works cars will thus have to start tomorrow's feature race from the back of the grid.



Rickard Rydell took his second pole position of the day by going fastest in one-shot showdown qualifying for the sprint race at Croft tomorrow (Sunday). The Swede added this to his pole for the feature race and team-mate Anthony Reid was again second 0.656s behind, making it the second all-Ford front row of the day.

Rydell was pleased with his lap, saying: "It was good, because you are a bit cautious with cold tyres at the rear, but the grip was there and the balance was fine." The 1998 BTCC cahmp remained cautious about his chances of victory though: "I had two poles at Silverstone and then hardly managed another point, I just hope we have two good clean races tomorrow."

While the Ford team was having it all its own way at the top, a catalogue of disasters befell their rivals. Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen admitted to being too cautious in the drizzle, but set a time quick enough for fourth on the grid. Yvan Muller's Vauxhall failed the ride-height check, as did James Thompson's Honda, while a light rain shower compromised several drivers laps, most notably that of Gabriele Tarquini.

At least the Italian made it onto the track however, as Vincent Radermecker, notched up his second 'no time' of the day, after his Vauxhall Vectra's engine failed immediately it was fired up for the session. Jason Plato was lucky to be fifth after an untidy lap.

"We just haven't got the balance on new tyres," said the Vauxhall driver. "That means you just can't attack, and that's what you've got to do in the one-shot."

Feature race qualifying results

3 R Rydell Ford Mondeo 1m20.517s
12 A Reid Ford Mondeo 1m 20.961s
77 T Kristensen Honda Accord 1m20.964s
9 M Neal Nissan Primera 1m21.127s
18 G Tarquini Honda Accord 1m21.369s
4 J Thompson Honda Accord 1m21.476s
11 A Menu Ford Mondeos 1m21.493s
5 J Plato Vauxhall Vectra 1m22.811s
13 A Morrison Peugeot 306 1m30.078s
33 J Kaye Honda Accord 1m30.167s
23 M Lemmer Honda Integra 1m31.101s
21 R Collard Nissan Primera 1m31.115s
20 M Nordon Nissan Primera 1m32.292s
48 N James Honda Integra 1m32.292s
6 Y Muller Vauxhall Vectra No time
8 V Radermecker Vauxhall Vectra No time

Sprint race qualifying results

3 R Rydell Ford Mondeo 1m20.920s
12 A Reid Ford Mondeo 1m21.576s
11 A Menu Ford Mondeo 1m21.965s
77 T Kristensen Honda Accord 1m22.276s
5 J Plato Vauxhall Vectra 1m22.392s
9 M Neal Nissan Primera 1m22.879s
18 G Tarquini Honda Accord 1m23.715s
13 A Morrison Peugeot 306 1m31.352 s
21 R Collard Nissan Primera 1m34.543s
33 J Kaye Honda Accord 1m36.641s
20 M Nordon Nissan Primera 4m49.395s
4 J Thompson Honda Accord No Time
6 Y Muller Vauxhall Vectra No Time
23 M Lemmer Honda Integra No Time

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