Qualifying: Two in a row for Thompson

James Thompson maintained his free practice form to set the fastest two times in qualifying in preparation for Sunday's pair of British Touring Car Championship races at Donington Park

Qualifying: Two in a row for Thompson

The Thames Ditton-based Yorkshireman set a pair of 1m42.6s laps in his Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe, a clear two-tenths quicker than anyone else could manage.

Thompson has focused recently on getting the set-up on the Astra, initially developed by works drivers Yvan Muller and Jason Plato, more to his liking. "I'm very pleased with that," he said. "With the ban on unofficial testing this year it's difficult to get the car knocked into something that fits you like a glove, and with two team mates like that I'm not going to be given an inch. But luckily we've carried our Snetterton test onto here. I'm still not 100 percent comfortable but we're getting there.

"The works cars have been having it their own way too long and it's time we turned the tables."

Muller took second on the sprint race grid and third for the feature, while Plato is second in the feature and only fourth for the sprint.

"We just haven't got the balance and I can't attack," bemoaned Plato. "I seem to be the only Vauxhall driver with no rear-end grip, although Yvan's the same on understeer as me. A lot of the corners here you've got to attack and I just can't do it."

Muller, meanwhile, is suffering badly from brake problems on a circuit which traditionally places a high demand on stopping power, not helped by his left-foot braking habit.

The second Egg Astra of Phil Bennett sneaked ahead of Plato into third in the sprint race times, but he only just edged out the improving Peugeot of Steve Soper for the feature.

Bike star and BTCC debutant Aaron Slight lost the majority of his times after failing to stop his Peugeot at the weighbridge, and subsequently only managed to get one flying lap in before the end of the session. However, times have been released reinstating his earlier laps. Kurt Luby's Lexus, meanwhile, was slowed by engine problems. Ditto Tim Harvey, who managed only two slow laps out of the pits in his Alfa.

Better news for Alfa in the Production session was provided by Gavin Pyper, who rewarded the GA Janspeed crew for a superfast engine change on his 156 after free practice by setting the pole time by 0.6 seconds.

A fantastic last lap effort from Simon Harrison propelled his Peugeot, carrying 60kg of ballast, into second on the grid ahead of team mate Roger Moen, with the smooth Gareth Howell close at hand in fourth with his Ford Focus.

James Thompson (Egg Sport Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m42.611s
Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m42.813s
Phil Bennett (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m42.992s
Jason Plato (Vauxhall Astra Coupe) 1m43.131s
Dan Eaves (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 1m43.595s
Steve Soper (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 1m43.889s
Aaron Slight (Peugeot 406 Coupe) 1m45.121s
Kurt Luby (ABG Motorsport Lexus IS200) 1m46.986s
Tim Harvey (JSM Alfa Romeo 147) 7m59.981s
Jon Dooley (Napolina Alfa Romeo Alfasud Ti) 9m43.185s


Thompson 1m42.686s
Plato 1m42.944s
Muller 1m42.973s
Bennett 1m43.108s
Soper 1m43.196s
Eaves 1m43.485s
Slight 1m44.399s
Luby 1m45.944s
Harvey 3m57.289s
Bill McGovern (Hillman Imp) 5m42.396s

Gavin Pyper (GA Janspeed Alfa Romeo 156) 1m47.056s
Simon Harrison (HTML Peugeot 306) 1m47.645s
Roger Moen (HTML Peugeot 306) 1m47.648s
Gareth Howell (GR Motorsport Ford Focus) 1m47.898s
James Kaye (Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord) 1m48.326s
Simon Graves (Barwell Motorsport Honda Accord) 1m48.349s

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