Matt Neal’s last pole was an astonishing five years ago
(Photo from: www.twitter.com/AdamGuthrie65)
Matt Neal claimed his first British Touring Car Championship pole position since 2012 at Thruxton today in a session dominated by Honda drivers, as teammate and reigning champion Gordon Shedden finished second ensuring the front row was a Halfords Yuasa Honda lockout.
It was a frantic session which saw spells of continuing changes at the front, however with 13 minutes to go, Neal beat the opposition to set a qualifying lap record round the Hampshire circuit. Once the session had finished Neal was quoted in saying “I actually can’t remember the last time I was on pole!” Neal continued to say “For Honda, this is like our home event with the cars manufactured up the road and it’s great to see so many guys from the factory here and to reward them with a one-two in qualifying. Now we just need to try to convert it tomorrow.”
Jack Goff finished third to ensure it was a Honda 1-2-3. However Jeff Smith in the other Eurotech Honda did not fare as well as his teammate as although he qualified sixth, Smith’s session ended five minutes early as he hit the inside curb slightly too hard at Turn 1 which unbalanced the car, which left him powerless to stop the car from sliding into the barriers at the exit for the bend.
This bought out the red flags, which effectively ended the session as no drivers went significantly quicker once the green flag was waved. Furthermore drivers such as Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden did not return to the circuit after the red flag in a bid to save tyres fro tomorrow.
Behind the Honda 1-2-3 was Championship leader Tom Ingram, who briefly led the session however once the chequered flag was raised, he found himself beat of the rest in fourth. Rob Austin and Jeff Smith filled the third row as Adam Morgan was in the top five for the majority of the session however he found himself seventh with Tom Chilton alongside. However Chilton has since been demoted to eleventh as he failed to slow down for yellow flags ensuring the top 10 is rounded out by Ashley Sutton, Colin Turkington and Mat Jackson.