Honda has set the early benchmark as the British Touring Car Championship takes on its fastest circuit of the season.
Matt Neal’s Halfords Yuasa Honda Civic Type-R broke the qualifying lap record in the 30-minute session for the third meeting of the BTCC season at Thruxton in Hampshire, setting a lap of 1m 16.040 around the 2.36-mile circuit on the way to his first pole position since the 2012 season.
Joining Neal on the front row for the first of three 16-lap races on Sunday will be his team-mate and reigning champion Gordon Shedden. The Scotsman was just 0.035sec behind despite carrying a maximum 75kg of success ballast after his success at Donington two weeks earlier, though the win was subsequently taken away when the Honda failed a ride height test.
Both Hondas were confident enough to sit out the last four minutes after the session was interrupted by a spin for the Eurotech Civic of Jeff Smith, fastest in recent testing at the circuit. Smith’s team-mate Jack Goff kept the flag flying however with third spot, lining up alongside current championship leader Tom Ingram in the Speedworks Toyota Avensis.
Rob Austin’s Handy Motorsport Avensis will occupy the third row with Smith, ahead of the Mercedes A-Class of Adam Morgan, Tom Chilton’s impressive new Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra and then the works entries of Ashley Sutton for Subaru and Colin Turkington for BMW.
More than 30,000 spectators are expected at the circuit for the three races on Sunday. Check back to The Car Expert on Sunday evening for a full report of the day’s race action.