Hondas dominate as Neal qualifies on BTCC pole at Croft

Matt Neal continued his recent strong form with pole position in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s qualifying session at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire.Reigning Champion Neal, second in the standings, set a best lap of 1m24.900s in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team Civic to grab pole spot on the starting grid for the first of tomorrow’s three races.The Civics of Pirtek Racing privateer Andrew Jordan and Neal’s team-mate Gordon Shedden, the current championship leader, were second and third fastest as Hondas filled the top three spots.Frank Wrathall’s Dynojet Toyota Avensis was fourth ahead of Jason Plato’s MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 and Robert Collard’s eBay Motors BMW which just won the battle of the rear-wheel-drive cars as it pipped by Rob Austin’s RAR Audi A4 to sixth by 0.039s.Plato, who’d set the fastest time of the day in an earlier practice session, was denied the opportunity of going for pole late on when his car stopped with an electrical problem.Worcestershire’s Neal, who took a victory double at Oulton Park a fortnight ago and also won twice at Croft 12 months ago, commented: “I’m delighted. We played about a lot with tyres in the two practice sessions while working on general set-up and this is the result. But we’ve also seen in the practice sessions that this circuit is very hard on tyres and that will play a factor tomorrow…”Staffordshire’s Jordan, chasing his first win of 2012 – he achieved his maiden BTCC race victory at Croft two years ago – was satisfied with second. He said: “I put in a very good first lap but that was the ‘banker’ lap done. The next time I went out on track I was going for Matt’s pole but needed to duck around a few slower cars and right at the end there were waved yellow caution flags for the MG at the side of track. I’m still happy, though.”Fife’s Shedden, who has won an unrivalled five times from the 12 races so far this season, added: “My car’s carrying maximum success ballast, of course, and even though it’s only nine kilos more than Matt’s it does hurt a lot around this particular circuit. I could probably have got a bit more out of the car on my final run but third is OK.”Today’s three BTCC races at Croft Circuit will be shown live from 11.30am-6.30pm on ITV4, ITV4 HD  Leading qualifying times, Dunlop BTCC, Croft Circuit, N Yorks, Sat 23 June1. Matt Neal (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing Team/Honda Civic, 1m24.900s2. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Honda Civic, +0.137s3. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.214s4. Frank Wrathall (GBR), Dynojet/Toyota Avensis, +0.256s5. Jason Plato (GBR), MG KX Momentum Racing/MG6, +0.321s6. Robert Collard (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.471s7. Rob Austin (GBR), Rob Austin Racing/Audi A4, +0.510s8. Mat Jackson (GBR), Redstone Racing/Ford Focus ST, +0.561s9. Andy Neate (GBR), MG KX Momentum Racing/MG6, +0.680s10. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.689s

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