Rydell makes his point for sprint

Rickard Rydell took pole position for the penultimate round of the British Touring Car Championship, the sprint race at Silverstone. That kick-started the Swede's bid to accrue near-maximum points from the meeting - his only chance to pull a surprise championship win out of the hat

Rydell makes his point for sprint

Rydell used the Ford Mondeo's renowned ability on cold tyres to overhaul feature race poleman Tom Kristensen's Honda, but is still cautious about his prospects. "Last time I was here I took two poles,' said the Swede, 'but I only came away with three points. Now I've got one point and I'm just looking forward to the races."

Kristensen, who failed to repeat his earlier pole-winning form, nevertheless produced an excellent time in the Accord, which in stark contrast to the Mondeo has rarely shown any real form in One-Shot Showdowns this year. "I'm the best of the rest," commented Kristensen, "and it's always nice to start near the front."

Alain Menu set the third fastest time and was again unhappy with his lap - "I had a big understeer at Becketts," admitted the Swiss, "and that cost me a load of time" - but satisfied with the position it puts him in for the races. "I'm still ahead of [title rival] Anthony [Reid], so that's OK for the race."

He also gave some insight into the mood in the Ford pits as the Blue Oval's three drivers battle it out for the title. ""We're maybe not talking to each other a lot," said Menu, " but the atmosphere's fine."

Reid though will be right on Menu's tail for the sprint race, having improved his car and his time since the morning session, and leapfrogged up from sixth to fourth fastest. Matt Neal again put his borrowed '98 Nissan Primera into fifth place on the grid, though he reckoned the lap deserved more. "I'm disappointed with the time," he said, "it felt like a really sweet lap."

James Thompson rounded out the top six with a lap he described simply as: "average."

James Kaye bounced back from his unfavourable encounter with the scrutineers after the first session to set the quickest Class B time in the Barwell Motorsport Honda, ahead of the Peugeot twins. Dan Eaves was again quicker than Kaye's title rival Alan Morrison and the pair were split by the Gary Ayles Racing Alfa Romeo of Tom Ferrier. Bryce Wilson set an excellent time in the improving RJN Motorsport Nissan Primera to be fifth quickest.

Provisional qualifying times for round 23

1 Rickard Rydell (Ford Mondeo ) 1m23.147s
2 Tom Kristensen (Honda Accord) 1m23.490s
3 Alain Menu (Ford Menu) 1m23.578s
4 Anthony Reid (Ford Mondeo) 1m23.599s
5 Matt Neal (Nissan Primera) 1m23.768s
6 James Thompson (Honda Accord) 1m23.779s
7 Jason Plato (Vauxhall Vectra) 1m23.911s
8 Gabriele Tarquini (Honda Accord) 1m24.121s
9 Vincent Radermecker (Vauxhall Vectra) 1m24.132s
10 Yvan Muller (Vauxhall Vectra) 1m24.355s
11 David Leslie (Nissan Primera) 1m25.269s
12 James Kaye (Honda Accord - B) 1m33.696s
13 Dan Eaves (Peugeot 306 GTi - B) 1m33.851s
14 Tom Ferrier (Alfa Romeo 156 - B) 1m34.346s
15 Alan Morrison (Peugeot 306GTi - B) 1m34.439s

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