Maiden BTCC Pole for Howell

Gareth Howell claimed at Silverstone today his maiden British Touring Car Championship pole position on only his second appearance since return to the category, after an absence of two years

Maiden BTCC Pole for Howell

The Team Dynamics Honda Integra-R driver made sure of first on the grid with a 1:00.270 lap in the closing stages of qualifying, although his previous best time, set in the middle of the 30-minute session, would have been enough.

"I can't remember the last time I had a pole - it's unbelievable," said Howell, who was aided by carrying no success ballast. "To do a better time again at the end was amazing - I could afford to push a lot harder towards the end and the time was there."

Tom Chilton made it two Hondas on the front of the grid in his Arena Motorsport Honda Civic Type-R, although the second-best Dynamics Integra of Dan Eaves was only four-thousandths of a second slower in third.

James Pickford was the best-placed of the SEATS, taking fourth on the grid after showing strong pace throughout practice, although teammates Jason Plato and Luke Hines could manage only seventh and 10th.

Yvan Muller could manage only eighth in his Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, a serious blow to his title hopes with points leader Matt Neal's Integra, which will start sixth after hitting traffic in the closing stages of qualifying, needing only to score consistently to be sure of the title.

Muller's teammate, Colin Turkington, was the best of the Vauxhall's in fifth place, although he was carrying only 9kg ballast compared to his team leader's 36kg.

Qualifying sets the grid for the first of tomorrow's three races, with the finishing order then setting the grid for race two. The final race of the day will start with the top ten finishers from race lining up in reverse order at the head of the grid.

Pos Driver Car Time Laps 1. Gareth Howell Honda Integra 1:00.270 21 2. Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type-R 1:00.538 + 0.268 22 3. Dan Eaves Honda Integra 1:00.542 + 0.272 23 4. James Pickford SEAT Toledo Cupra 1:00.554 + 0.284 23 5. Colin Turkington Vauxhall Astra 1:00.565 + 0.295 21 6. Matt Neal Honda Integra 1:00.582 + 0.312 22 7. Jason Plato SEAT Toledo Cupra 1:00.677 + 0.407 11 8. Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra 1:00.710 + 0.440 20 9. Rob Collard MG ZS 1:00.741 + 0.471 20 10. Luke Hines SEAT Toledo Cupra 1:00.876 + 0.606 17 11. Gavin Smith Vauxhall Astra Sport 1:01.022 + 0.752 22 12. James Kaye Honda Civic Type-R 1:01.105 + 0.835 16 13. Fiona Leggate Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:02.054 + 1.784 21 14. Mark Proctor Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1:02.230 + 1.960 17 15. Ian Curley Lexus IS200 1:03.111 + 2.841 26 16. Richard Williams Lexus IS200 1:03.287 + 3.017 20 
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