Qualifying: Pole each for MG drivers

MG dominated qualifying for rounds 17 and 18 of the BTCC at Brands Hatch. Works drivers Anthony Reid and Warren Hughes took a pole a piece and all four ZSs in the field will be in the top five on the sprint grid and in the top seven on the feature race grid tomorrow (Sunday)

Qualifying: Pole each for MG drivers

"I'm delighted," admitted Hughes, who backed his feature pole with second fastest time for the sprint. "I knew we had good pace and I'm delighted we translated that into good qualifying times."

Reid was just as happy. "Basically we've done what we should have done at Knockhill. It was a bloody good effort by the team." Hughes reckons that victories in tomorrow's races are also on. "We're in the perfect position for at least one win," he claimed.

The two MG stars locked out the front row for the sprint race, but the ever-improving Aaron Slight ruined the MG symmetry on the feature grid, putting the independent Barwell Motorsport Vauxhall Astra Coupe on the outside of the front row and coming within 0.002sec of lifting the pole.

"Excellent, I'm rapt," said the Kiwi. The former superbike star was one of the few drivers out on new tyres at the end of the session, when, after a light shower, the track was very quick. It's the third top three qualifying slot Slight has picked up this year and now he wants a really good race run. "I want to mix it at the front for a while," he admitted. "I've been threatening to put in a result, but now I've got to put it together in a race.

Slight's Independents' Cup rivals from the Team Atomic Kitten MG squad also starred. Gareth Howell was fourth quickest for the sprint and seventh for the feature, while Colin Turkington will line up fifth for the sprint and fourth for the feature - just 0.015sec off pole.

James Thompson was the best of the title contenders, putting his Vauxhall Motorsport Astra Coupe into third slot for the sprint and sixth for the feature. He was frustrated by traffic in both sessions on the short Indy circuit, which gets very crowded with 30 cars in the field. Matt Neal's first session was ruined by traffic - both he and Thompson were highly-critical of BTC Production BMW driver Tom Boardman's track manners - and he could only manage 10th fastest. Fifth best in the second session was a little better.

Yvan Muller was in even worse straits. The Frenchman reckoned sixth, with a substantial load of success ballast, was OK, but 14th for the second was not. A tyre-trashing mistake, rain on track and then traffic made it an all-round awful session.

Andy Priaulx was the only driver carrying more success ballast than Muller and he could only manage a 14th and a 16th place. "We just don't know until we look at the data," said the round 16 winner, and Honda works man, when asked why he was off the pace, "though the time's not that far off."

Alan Morrison's places were almost as disappointing - his Civic took 12th and ninth. Both were substantially less successful than the unloved Peugeot 406 of Tim Harvey, which the 1992 champion managed to hustle round to seventh and eighth places. Harvey's team-mate Carl Breeze put in his best qualifying run to date to edge into the top 10 for the feature race grid.

In BTC production the usual frontrunners were again to the fore, with James Kaye and Norman Simon taking a pole apiece in Honda Civic and BMW 320, and Gavin Pyper lining up as their closest competitor.

Anthony Reid (MG ZS) 49.534s 89.11mph
Warren Hughes (MG ZS) 49.569s 89.05mph
James Thompson (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 49.596s 89.00mph
Gareth Howell (MG ZS) 49.612s 88.97mph
Colin Turkington (MG ZS) 49.630s 88.94mph
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 49.650s 88.90mph
Tim Harvey (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 49.674s 88.86mph
Aaron Slight (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 49.713s 88.79mph
Phil Bennett (Proton Impian) 49.734s 88.75mph
Matt Neal (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 49.745s 88.73mph

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