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Matt Neal on pole as Hondas dominate

Matt Neal has taken pole position for the first race at Donington Park tomorrow, as both works Honda’s locked out the front row of the grid. Neal’s pole time was 0.043 seconds faster than team-mate Gordon Shedden around the National circuit, as the Honda’s continued to show ominous pace early in the season.

Click here for the full Qualifying results.

James Nash was again impressive in qualifying as he had been last time out at Brands Hatch, setting the third fastest time, 0.348 seconds slower than Neal.

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Andrew Jordan set the fourth fastest time after displaying impressive pace again in practice earlier, cementing the form of the turbo-powered Vectra’s so far this season. However he only set the time late in the session after mechanical troubles earl on.

The session saw several red flags fly as a result of a number of incidents. Shedden and Airwaves Racing’s Mat Jackson made contact for the first one, sending Jackson into the gravel after having only completed 4 flying laps. His time was still good enough for seventh on the grid, however.

Another red flag was caused when Andy Neate went off, whilst a third was called for when Tom Boardman and Chris James made contact. The final session ending red flag was caused by contact between Nash and Tony Hughes’ Toyota, sending the Avensis off into the gravel.

Despite his team-mates troubles, Team Aon’s Tom Chilton was able to set the fifth fastest time in the new Ford Focus ST, although he had been third fastest for the first part of the session before a late charge by two of the Vauxhalls. Pirtek Racing’s Jeff Smith joins Chilton on the third row of the grid after an impressive effort in what is still only his third BTCC meeting.

Alongside Jackson on the fourth row of the grid is Chevrolet’s Jason Plato, whose time was a surprising 1.233 seconds of the pace of the Honda’s at the front. His team-mate Alex MacDowall qualified just behind him in ninth, with the WSR BMW of Rob Collard alongside him in tenth.

Paul O’Neill was 11th fastest in his Tech-Speed Cruze, with Tom Boardman in twelfth. Tony Gilham managed 13th on the grid and he will be pleased just to be out on track this weekend after sponsorship problems meant that he almost did not make it to the circuit this weekend.

Frank Wrathall was the best of the NGTC drivers, setting the 20th best time, 2.3 seconds off the front-running pace. Rob Austin, making his BTCC debut standing in for David Pinkney, was 21st in the Audi in its first qualifying session.

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