Honda back fastest in Knockhill test

Italian Gabriele Tarquini put the smiles back on the faces of Redstone Team Honda today, setting the quickest time in testing ahead of rounds seven and eight of the Auto Trader British Touring Car Championship, at Knockhill, Scotland. Pre-season favourite Honda has so far not had the best of luck - with just one podium finish from the first six races - and this is the team's first time at the top of the timesheets this year

Honda back fastest in Knockhill test

Honda had further cause to be optimistic for Sunday's races with series returnee James Thompson - back in the Accord after missing the last four races through injury - second quickest and team-mate Tom Kristensen third. However, the top ten today were separated by just under seven tenths of a second, so the Hondas will come under severe pressure in tomorrow's qualifying sessions.

Michelin Cup for Independents runner Matt Neal was fourth fastest, in his Team Dynamics Nissan Primera, ahead of Ford Team Mondeo's Rickard Rydell and Vauxhall Motorsport's Vincent Radermecker. Vauxhall's Jason Plato, carrying 40kg of success ballast following his two podium finishes at Thruxton a fortnight ago, was seventh quickest, one place ahead of championship leader Alain Menu, whose Mondeo was also weighed down with 20kg of ballast.

Despite the 1-2-3 domination, 1994 BTCC champion Tarquini was surprised he was at the top and said the ballast in rivals' cars could have helped him. He added: "This is probably the worst track to have ballast. After racing in Germany last year I know about success ballast and it affects you most at the slower circuits like this one with its long hill after the slow hairpin on the start-finish straight.

"I am very happy to be the quickest but I was really surprised. We have improved the rear suspension of the car since Thruxton but we have not been able to test the changes until today. The results are very positive. I hope we can perform just as well tomorrow."

Alan Morrison was the fastest of the championship's Class B runners in his Touring Car VIP Club Peugeot 306, half a second quicker than James Kaye's Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord.

TOP TIMES FROM KNOCKHILL CIRCUIT
1 Gabriele Tarquini (Ita) Redstone Team Honda Honda Accord 52.404s
2 James Thompson (GB) Redstone Team Honda Honda Accord 52.545s
3 Tom Kristensen (Den) Redstone Team Honda Honda Accord 52.595s
4 Matt Neal (GB) Team Dynamics Nissan Primera GT 52.635s
5 Rickard Rydell (Swe) Ford Team Mondeo Ford Mondeo Zetec 52.681s
6 Vincent Radermecker (Bel) Vauxhall Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra 52.809s
7 Jason Plato (GB) Vauxhall Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra 52.863s
8 Alain Menu (Swi) Ford Team Mondeo Ford Mondeo Zetec 52.890s
9 Yvan Muller (Fra) Vauxhall Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra 53.043s
10 Anthony Reid (GB) Ford Team Mondeo Ford Mondeo Zetec 53.088s

Class B
1 Alan Morrison (GB) Touring Car VIP Club Peugeot 306 57.917s

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