Qualifying: Thompson fastest

James Thompson emerged on top after an intense and closely fought session to claim pole position for the first of today's British Touring Car Championship races at Snetterton

Qualifying: Thompson fastest

The works Vauxhall driver waited until near the end of the session before setting his fastest time of 1m12.297s, which was 0.143s better than Honda's Matt Neal could managed. Tom Chilton will start third in the second works Honda, his best ever qualifying result in touring cars.

"Obviously I'm very pleased to be on pole, especially with 30kg of success ballast," said Thompson. " We spent all day yesterday working on race set-up, so we're confident that the car can go better on race pace."

Thompson played a waiting game in the early running, as team-mate Paul O'Neill set the pace at the start, although he eventually wound up fifth fastest. MG's Colin Turkington also had a spell at the top of the timesheets, but dropped to fourth.

It was a tough session for championship leader Yvan Muller, who could only set the seventh fastest time. With his major title rival on pole, the Frenchman will have his work cut out in today's races to prevent his once secure points lead slipping even further, although Thompson is taking nothing for granted just yet. "It's all very well beating Yvan in qualifying, but I need to beat him in the races," he said.

Carl Breeze was the fastest of the Independent runners in ninth. Luke Hines won the Production class pole, edging Mark Fullalove and Michael Bentwood.

James Thompson Vauxhall 1m12.297s
Matt Neal Honda 1m12.440s
Tom Chilton Honda 1m12.604s
Colin Turkington MG 1m12.717s
Paul O'Neill Vauxhall 1m12.746s
Warren Hughes MG 1m12.859s

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