Qual: Neal bags pole

Matt Neal topped qualifying for the first time this season to take pole for the first of three BTCC races at Brands Hatch tomorrow, pipping points leader Yvan Muller, surprise outsider James Kaye and Muller's closest title challenger James Thompson

Qual: Neal bags pole

Muller was the first to show at the top of the times after an early stoppage caused by a bizarre out-lap crash between Carl Breeze's GA Motorsports Vauxhall Astra and Farique Hairuman's Proton.

Neal though soon put in a quick lap to go to the top of the times in the Computeach Racing with Halfords Honda, and stayed there to the end of the session, though he needed another scorcher to stay ahead of the improving Muller in the factory Vauxhall Astra.

"It's a good job I pulled one out," admitted Neal, "because Yvan was on a real charge. I'm really pleased. The car felt absolutely superb, which is a real credit to the lads. It was a bit battered after Knockhill and they've spent part of their holidays putting it right."

Thompson held third for much of the session, until Kaye put in a lap, which demoted the Vauxhall driver to fourth place. Kaye too was delighted with the pace of his Honda which is run by employees at Honda's Swindon factory in their spare time under the Synchro Motorsport banner. "We've re-grouped brought everything together and we've got a very good car," he said, admitting also that the past couple of meetings had been blighted by an unidentified damper problem, now fixed.

Another fine performance came from Stefan Hodgetts on his first outing in the GA Alfa 156. He set eighth best time, 0.031 slower than SEAT's Rob Huff in the best of the ETCC-spec cars. "I'm very pleased but a little bit shocked," admitted Hodgetts. "It seems you just need to settle down, get smooth and it's got a bit of speed in it. It's Italian, so you've got to warm to the car a bit..."

While Muller and Thompson qualified near the top their title rivals are down the field. Jason Plato who is fourth in the points looks well-placed to pursue his usual tactic of finishing ninth or 10th to secure a place on the front row of the partially-reversed grid for race two. The SEAT driver was 10th quickest.

Anthony Reid, third in the points, though looks to be in real trouble. After making big inroads into the Vauxhall drivers' points leads at Knockhill, he could only qualify 15th with maximum success ballast on the car. His time was only 0.629s off Neal's but he's got some work on his hands even to get up to the coveted ninth or 10th places tomorrow.

Matt Neal Honda 49.332s
Yvan Muller Vauxhall 49.479s
James Kaye Honda 49.622s
James Thompson Vauxhall 49.637s
Luke Hines Vauxhall 49.684s
Tom Chilton Honda 49.689s
Rob Huff SEAT 49.707s
Stefan Hodgetts Alfa Romeo 49.738s
Dan Eaves Honda 49.739s
Jason Plato SEAT 49.788s

shares
comments
Hodgetts takes over GA's Alfa

Previous article

Hodgetts takes over GA's Alfa

Next article

Race 1: Neal cruises

Race 1: Neal cruises
Load comments
The increasingly varied CV behind a new BTCC title challenger Plus

The increasingly varied CV behind a new BTCC title challenger

A driver with limited funds behind him, it’s been a tough road to the top of the British Touring Car Championship for Jake Hill. Now he’s a title contender, accomplished historic racer and in-demand coach. It’s a great life for this self-confessed motorsport junkie

BTCC
Aug 26, 2021
The outright tin-top wins achieved by a forgotten tin-top great Plus

The outright tin-top wins achieved by a forgotten tin-top great

Already established as a formidable force in the British Saloon Car Championship, the Triumph Dolomite became a legend in 1977 when Tony Dron's Broadspeed machine frequently embarrassed the mighty Capris

BTCC
May 18, 2021
Five key plotlines to follow in the 2021 BTCC Plus

Five key plotlines to follow in the 2021 BTCC

It’s been a busy silly season in the BTCC since the chequered flag fell to end the 2020 campaign last November. While last year’s top two have stayed put, there’s plenty of talking points elsewhere, which should result in another fascinating year of tin-top action

BTCC
May 7, 2021
The giantkilling 'dad and lad' operation taking on the BTCC's best Plus

The giantkilling 'dad and lad' operation taking on the BTCC's best

The Lancashire squad of Ciceley Motorsport has been a BTCC race winner for several years with Adam Morgan and Mercedes. But the switch to WSR-built BMWs and addition of Tom Chilton as a true barometer for Morgan should see the team step up into title contention

BTCC
May 6, 2021
How a returning champion is feeling at home again in the BTCC Plus

How a returning champion is feeling at home again in the BTCC

After topping the times at the end of British Touring Car Championship pre-season testing, it feels like Gordon Shedden has never been away. But after plenty of changes behind the scenes, the three-time champion is bedding himself in to pick up where he left off

BTCC
May 5, 2021
Why a BTCC legend remains defiant at '97 not out' Plus

Why a BTCC legend remains defiant at '97 not out'

After a year of enforced absence from the British Touring Car Championship grid, Jason Plato is back and hungrier than ever. Despite stellar opposition and some familiar challenges, the two-time champion still has his eyes focused on the biggest prizes

BTCC
May 4, 2021
How Ingram's clean slate can end his BTCC title wait Plus

How Ingram's clean slate can end his BTCC title wait

After seven years together, Tom Ingram and Speedworks Motorsport have amicably split and gone down separate paths for the 2021 BTCC season. With engineer Spencer Aldridge joining him at the Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai squad, Ingram is confident he can challenge for titles from the off

BTCC
Apr 30, 2021
How the unlikely Capri-slaying Dolomite triumphed against adversary Plus

How the unlikely Capri-slaying Dolomite triumphed against adversary

The Dolomite Sprint was a potent giantkilling weapon during the 1970s in the British Saloon Car Championship, now known as the BTCC. Tin-top legend Andy Rouse explains how it became such a force

BTCC
Apr 25, 2021