Champions on the front row


 VX Racing secured a front-row spot in today’s HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) qualifying at Rockingham, Northamptonshire, with Matt Neal qualifying in second place and his team-mates Tom Onslow-Cole and Fabrizio Giovanardi securing sixth and tenth on the grid.

A rain shower hit the 1.94 mile-long circuit minutes before the session was due to start, but the reigning BTCC Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Champions managed to tame the quickly drying track, with Neal putting in a stunning performance in his Vectra VXR.

Neal looked like taking his first pole position for VX Racing as he sat on top of the times, but was edged out of the top spot late in the session.

Onslow-Cole also performed strongly and ran in third place for most of the session. However, an incident with a BMW leaving the pits on his quick lap meant the 20-year-old could not improve his time and finished in sixth.

Reigning BTCC Champion Giovanardi’s qualifying was out of his hands, when he lost valuable time after being called onto the weigh bridge by race officials. Also carrying maximum success ballast of 45kg after his double win at Brands Hatch, the Italian had to settle for tenth place for tomorrow’s first race.

The first of three races at the Northamptonshire circuit will start at 11:20 tomorrow (Sunday, 13 April 2008).

Matt Neal #4

“What a fantastic result! I thought we would get pole position but Gordon (Shedden) put a great lap in right at the end, leaving us in second place.

“The track conditions were changing throughout the session, which made it really interesting and the positions changed quite a lot.

“We can finally get our head down and score some solid points this weekend.”

Tom Onslow-Cole #10

“Unfortunately, when I went out for my last run on new tyres, a BMW left the pits and I was forced to go straight on into Deene corner as he didn’t leave me enough room.

“But we are still looking strong tomorrow starting from sixth and I’m happy with the result.”

Fabrizio Giovanardi #1

“I lost a lot of time when I had to stop at the weigh bridge, which left me with no time to change my set-up. We had to run with the wet weather set-up for the remainder of the session and I was unable to improve my time.

“Nothing is lost though and I will attack from the back tomorrow.”

Provisional Qualifying Results Rockingham1. Gordon Shedden (Honda Civic), 1:24.3272. Matt Neal (Vauxhall Vectra VXR), 1:24.554

3. Adam Jones (SEAT Leon), 1:24.654

4. Darren Turner (SEAT Leon TDi), 1:24.6625. Jason Plato (SEAT Leon TDi), 1:24.7606. Tom Onslow-Cole (Vauxhall Vectra VXR), 1:24.770

7. Colin Turkington (BMW 320si), 1:24.8048. Tom Chilton (Honda Civic), 1:24.869

10. Fabrizio Giovanardi (Vauxhall Vectra VXR), 1:25.019

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