Free practice: Priaulx sets the pace

Andy Priaulx topped the times in free practice ahead of the BTCC showdown at Donington Park. The Honda works pilot pipped Matt Neal and Anthony Reid over the two sessions

Free practice: Priaulx sets the pace

"I did that on old tyres too," said Priaulx. "I'm very happy. It's now just a question of putting the lap together in qualifying. We've got to make a couple of adjustments to get the balance on new tyres, but it'll be fine. I'm quite confident."

Neal was the best of the Vauxhall contingent, all-but matching Priaulx's time, while Anthony Reid showed that the MG form-improvement in the last meeting at Brands was no fluke, as he set the third fastest time on a circuit which theoretically does not suit the V6-powered ZS.

"The car has been getting better and better," said Reid, "and it's coping well with the small amount of ballast I'm carrying. I'll be happy if I qualify in the top four and then in the race there will be everything to fight for."

Reid is now, mathematically, back in with a shot at the drivers' title too as James Thompson suffered an engine problem in his Vauxhall Astra which will require an engine change (see separate story.) The Yorkshireman missed half of the second session and only set the eighth fastest time. His team-mate and fellow title-chaser Yvan Muller (carrying 12kg more than Neil and 15kg more than Thompson) was sixth quickest.

Colin Turkington was the top Independent with fourth fastest lap, and all four MGs were in the top 10 - Warren Hughes the slowest, with maximum ballast after his Brands win, in ninth. Gareth Howell who is one of those still able to win the Independents Cup put in the seventh best lap, despite losing a wheel within yards of setting out for his first lap...

In BTC Production Gavin Pyper's Alfa just pipped title favourite James Kaye's Honda to the best time, with Mark Fullalove third in the Peugeot 306 despite spinning off, when the steering rack failed. Kaye's only remaining challenger for the crown Norman Simon was fourth quickest in the BMW.

Andy Priaulx (Honda Civic Type-R) 1m41.026s 89.08mph
Matt Neal (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m41.089s 89.03mph
Anthony Reid (MG ZS) 1m41.328s 88.82mph
Colin Turkington (MG ZS) 1m41.481s 88.68mph
Alan Morrison (Honda Civic Type-R) 1m41.493s 88.67mph
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m41.545s 88.63mph
Gareth Howell (MG ZS) 1m41.791s 88.41mph
James Thompson (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m41.980s 88.25mph
Warren Hughes (MG ZS) 1m42.006s 88.23mph
David Leslie (Proton Impian) 1m42.236s 88.03mph

Gavin Pyper (Alfa Romeo 156) 1m46.662s 84.37mph
James Kaye (Honda Civic Type-R) 1m46.738s 84.31mph
Mark Fullalove (Peugeot 306 GTi) 1m47.043s 84.07mph

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