Practice: Thommo on top

James Thompson took full advantage of his minimum weight status to top the times in free practice for rounds 13 and 14 of the BTCC at Snetterton

Practice: Thommo on top

On a slippery, dusty, track, bathed in sunshine, Thompson headed the timesheets after both 40-minute sessions, though he like many of his rivals avoided over-optimism. "It was steady really, not pushing too hard. It's close though, so I'll have to raise the game a bit in qualifying."

Thompson was the only Vauxhall runner in a closely-packed top five, with both the Honda and MG works teams in close attendance. Alan Morrison was second quickest in both sessions in the Civic and another who seemed quietly optimistic. "We've been looking forward to this weekend," he said, "because this is the only track we've tested on and we made a big step forward with the cars before the last meeting at Croft."

Morrison was separated from his team-mate Andy Priaulx - the fastest driver carrying ballast as his engineer Will Hoy was quick to point out - by Warren Hughes in the quicker of the two MGs. "I'm not unhappy," said Hughes, "but there's more to come, it's just a question of whether we can unleash it."

With Priaulx and Anthony Reid in the second MG next up, you had to look down to eighth and ninth on the sheets to find Thompson's title rivals Yvan Muller and Matt Neal. Muller felt the extra weight was the main difference between him and Thompson, but admitted that he'd had a string of small problems and had not yet pushed really hard.

In BTC production, James Kaye was on top of the pile from team-mate and surprise package Dave Allan in the second Synchro Honda Civic. Norman Simon was third fastest in the Edenbridge BMW as regular pacesetter Gavin Pyper managed only three laps before an oil leak forced an engine change on the GA Motorsport/Team Dynamics Alfa 156.

James Thompson (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m12.719s 96.63mph
Alan Morrison (Honda Civic Type R) 1m12.779s 96.55mph
Warren Hughes (MG ZS) 1m12.928s 96.35mph
Andy Priaulx (Honda Civic Type R) 1m12.995s 96.27mph
Anthony Reid (MG ZS) 1m13.066s 96.17mph
Paul O'Neill (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m13.184s 96.02mph
Colin Turkington (MG ZS) 1m13.234s 95.95mph
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m13.239s 95.94mph
Matt Neal (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m13.243s 95.94mph
Gareth Howell (MG ZS) 1m13.380s 95.76mph

James Kaye (Honda Civic Type-R) 1m16.902s 91.37mph
Dave Allan (Honda Civic Type-R) 1m17.337s 90.86mph
Norman Simon (BMW 320i) 1m17.413s 90.77mph

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