Neal blitzes Brands qualifying

Neal broke the lap record as he beat Jordan and Plato to the pole

Matt Neal softened the blow of his Honda team-mate Gordon Shedden by storming to pole position for the opening BTCC round at Brands Hatch, breaking the lap record as he finished an alarming quarter of a second ahead of the field.

The Honda Racing team’s only car for the 30 minute qualifying session was at the head of the timesheets early on, after which Neal lowered the time to a 48.210 to secure the first pole of the season ahead of practice pacesetter Andrew Jordan in the Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra.

Neal told ITV after qualifying: “That’s exactly where i wanted to start. I haven’t started this thing in the dry yet so it’s going to be tricky and Jason’s not far away. He’s always there!” 

Neal also said that the team are confident they will get Gordon Shedden’s sister car repaired in time for tomorrow’s three races.

Jordan proved to be Neal’s closest challenger finishing 0.255s behind by the end of the session, while Jason Plato will start third on the grid behind them. The reigning champion was always a threat during the session but outbraked himself at clearways and on his last attempt to snatch pole and was lucky to stay out of the gravel. 

James Nash was a further tenth behind Plato and will start alongside him in fourth, ahead of Mat Jackson’s Motorbase Ford and Alex MacDowall’s Silverline Chevrolet.

Tom Chilton had a session to forget after his times were deleted early on when his new Focus failed a ride height check. The team identified the problem and got the car back out to set a time late in the session, but Chilton couldn’t match his previous effort and will start down in seventh position.

The top 10 was rounded off by Tom Boardman’s SEAT, Boardman again showing his strong practice pace, Paul O’Neill in the TechSpeed Chevrolet Cruze and the second Arena Ford of Andy Neate.

Frank Wrathall suffered problems in his new NGTC Toyota Avensis but still qualified 20th, three tenths ahead of the similar car of Tony Hughes, while Tom Onslow Cole’s VW Golf stopped on the pit straight briefly causing the session to be brought to a brief halt.

There were still no signs of Dave Pinkney’s Rob Austin Racing Audi, although the car should ready for tomorrow.


 1.  Matt Neal        Honda                 48.210s
2.  Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Vauxhall     48.465s  + 0.255s
3.  Jason Plato      Chevrolet             48.583s  + 0.373s
4.  James Nash       Triple 8 Vauxhall     48.623s  + 0.413s
5.  Alex MacDowall   Chevrolet             48.658s  + 0.448s
6.  Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford        48.667s  + 0.457s
7.  Tom Chilton      Arena Ford            48.668s  + 0.458s
8.  Tom Boardman     Special Tuning SEAT   48.752s  + 0.542s
9.  Paul O’Neill     Tech-Speed Chevrolet  48.849s  + 0.639s
10.  Andy Neate       Arena Ford            49.036s  + 0.826s
11.  Tony Gilham      Triple 8 Vauxhall     49.045s  + 0.835s
12.  Rob Collard      WSR BMW               49.130s  + 0.920s
13.  Jeff Smith       Eurotech Vauxhall     49.176s  + 0.966s
14.  Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford        49.220s  + 1.010s
15.  Dave Newsham     Geoff Steel BMW       49.248s  + 1.038s
16.  Tom Onslow-Cole  AmD Volkswagen        49.540s  + 1.330s
17.  Nick Foster      WSR BMW               49.587s  + 1.377s
18.  John George      Tech-Speed Chevrolet  50.065s  + 1.855s
19.  Chris James      ES Chevrolet          51.169s  + 2.959s
20.  Frank Wrathall   Dynojet Toyota        51.449s  + 3.239s
21.  Tony Hughes      Speedworks Toyota     51.736s  + 3.526s
22.  Gordon Shedden   Honda                         No time 

Jelley and Parker dominate, Clio battle tight

Stephen Jelley took qualifying spoils in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB as team Parker with Juta locked out the front row for both races.

Having signed the late deal earlier this week, Jelley outpaced his team-mate Euan Hankey throughout the session on his way to both poles, with James Sutton trailing them in third. Reigning champion Tim Harvey and rookie Sam Tordoff took a fourth and fifth apiece for the races, while Michael Caine struggled to two ninth place starting spots.

Jake Packun and returning former Clio Cup champion Paul Rivett took a pole position apiece in a session that also witnessed the eagerly awaited racing debut of Nicholas Hamilton, younger brother of Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton.

Nick, who suffers from cerebral palsy, will start last on the grid for both races but was a very respectable 1.2-1.3 seconds off the pole times for what will be his first race season in cars. The session was all about the battle for pole between Rivett, Packun, James Dixon and Luke Wright, who were separated by less than a tenth of a second.

Alex Lynn secured two pole positions for the Formula Renault UK championship, while in Ginettas Jake Giddings just pipped Seb Morris in the Juniors, and Tom Sharp beat the returning inaugural G50 series champion Nathan Freke to pole for the Ginetta Supercup.


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