The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship qualifying session got underway under the blistering sunshine at the Thruxton circuit in Hampshire.
This is a circuit which is notoriously hard and tyres and is the fastest circuit on the calender, so this was a chance for the cars, particularly with less ballast, to really make a run for the front and gain the advantage going into race day tomorrow.
It was the Halfords Yuasa Honda Civic of Matt Neal who produced an astonishing lap in the sunshine to beat his own lap record by nearly half a second to grab pole.
In a season which has so far been dominated by the ever growing number of emerging independents, it was the elder statesman Neal who produced the goods to come out on top of the half an hour qualifying session.
Team BMW’s Colin Turkington, who suffered last time out Donington, was back on the pace and will line up alongside the Honda on the front row. Brett Smith was impressive in the Eurotech backed Honda and will up just behind the experienced pair of Neal and Turkington.
Matt Neal’s teammate, Dan Cammish, was amongst a number of drivers who would have their times removed during the session due to track limits, but the rookie bounced back to line up in fourth.
The Power Maxed Racing squad continue to have a breakthrough season in the BTCC, as Senna Proctor performed well again to line up in fifth for the first of tomorrows three races.
Championship leader Tom Ingram, Sam Tordoff, Tom Chilton, Andrew Jordan and Chris Smiley rounded out the top ten in what was a highly competitive session.
With the entire field separated by just 2.6 seconds at the flag drop, it means we will be yet again in for a treat at the fast paced Thruxton circuit and we will find out if the championship old guard will dominate or the hungry independents will continue to turn the season on its head.
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Thruxton
1 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing 1m15.612s (112.17mph)
2 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.235s
3 Brett SMITH (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +0.435s
4 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.477s
5 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +0.533s
6 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.567s
7 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +0.609s
8 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +0.644s
9 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.706s
10 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.783s
11 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +0.845s
12 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +0.901s
13 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +0.911s
14 Jack GOFF (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +0.926s
15 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +0.991s
16 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +1.020s
17 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing +1.029s
18 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.078s
19 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +1.154s
20 James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +1.167s
21 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1.193s
22 James NASH (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +1.215s
23 Josh PRICE (GBR) Autoglym Academy Racing +1.282s
24 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.306s
25 Jake HILL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +1.325s
26 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +1.471s
27 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +1.722s
28 Michael CAINE (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +1.958s
29 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +2.056s
30 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +2.161s
31 Tom BOARDMAN (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +2.501s
32 Sam SMELT (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +2.659s