Qualifying: Thompson gets title boost

James Thompson's hopes of retaining his British Touring Car Championship title were given a massive boost in qualifying for Sunday's races at Donington

Qualifying: Thompson gets title boost

The VX Racing driver picked up a bonus point after storming to his sixth pole of the season and with team-mate and title rival Yvan Muller forced to start from the back of the field after his car died on his first flying lap, Thompson's chances of reducing Muller's 27-point advantage have increased dramatically.

The 20-minute session was a cut-and-thrust duel between Thompson and the Honda Civic of Matt Neal. The Type-R driver twice surpassed Thompson's time to hold the top spot, but a stunning late effort of 1m14.610s guaranteed the Astra an invaluable pole position.

Rob Collard held a provisional front row position at one stage, but was still delighted with a career best third on the grid, the best showing from an Independent runner this season. Tom Chilton couldn't quite match his stunning free practice pace, but lines up alongside Collard on the second row.

After their double win at Brands Hatch the MG drivers were disappointed to be back in the midfield, with Anthony Reid the quickest ZS in seventh. Proton continued its recent improvement, and although David Leslie was only 10th, he was just 0.3s off Collard in third.

Barwell's Luke Hines, who looks set to wrap up the Production championship this weekend, took a comfortable pole. Title rival Michael Bentwood could do no better than sixth as his BMW 320i familiar lack of straight line speed took its toll.

James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1m14.610s
Matt Neal Honda Civic Type-R 1m14.782s
Rob Collard Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1m15.100s
Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type-R 1m15.147s
Paul O'Neill Vauxhall Astra Coupe 1m15.188s
Alan Morrison Honda Civic Type-R 1m15.218s

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