Ford reasserts supremacy

Rickard Rydell produced a superb lap in his Ford Mondeo to grab pole for round 19 of the BTCC at Brands Hatch tomorrow. The Swede's One-Shot Showdown left his rivals 0.236s adrift, a massive margin by Brands Indy circuit standards - all 10 Super Touring cars were covered by just 0.317s in the earlier first qualifying session.

Ford reasserts supremacy

"It was quite a clean lap," said Rydell. "I'm pleased of course. I should have had pole in the first one as well, but got caught in traffic. The difference this time is that there was no Italian [Gabriele Tarquini] in the way."

Ford's Anthony Reid and independent Nissan driver Matt Neal overcame the handicap of 40kg of success ballast to set the second and third quickest times. Neal wasn't sure what effect the extra weight has here. "It makes a difference, " said Neal, "but it's hard to know how much. My big problem was that all my instruments went down on the out lap. I hit the rev-limiter on my first gearchange and then changed up early for all the rest, so I reckon I should have had Anthony. Rick did his rabbit out of the hat bit again though, and he was uncatchable."

Feature race poleman Tom Kristensen could only manage fourth place this time, blaming the Honda's relative lack of pace on cold tyres for his move down the grid. Yvan Muller and Jason Plato are well-placed in fifth and sixth places, while title hopeful Alain Menu hit a major understeer problem in the Mondeo and languishes in seventh.

Class B debutant Toni Ruokonen grabbed the category pole from Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord pilot James Kaye. Ruokonen's Peugeot team mate Alan Morrison was third fastest, while the Alfa 156s continued to impress with Gavin Pyper and Tom Ferrier setting competitive times to be fourth and fifth. The Class B gang look set for a major multi-car dust-up for the first time this season and that could spell trouble when the Super Touring cars come up to lap them.

Rydell for one is aware of the problem: "It's going to be really difficult," said the Swede, "especially for the first car to come across them. Tomorrow will be more about passing class B cars than anything else, and being lucky about where on the track you catch them."

The nightmare outcome would be a major accident as the two classes become entangled. "If there's going to be one this year, it will be here," said Class B Accord runner Mark Lemmer.

Rydell is cautious about his race prospects, having suffered more than his share of bad luck this year. "I'm taking every race as it comes now," he said, "but I hope I can have a good day tomorrow." Neal though is looking for his second outright win. "If I get the jump on those two at the start," he said, "you never know what might happen. These Nissans can be very wide here."


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