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Matt Neal takes BTCC pole position at Oulton Park

Saturday, May 20 2017

Matt Neal claimed his second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship pole position in succession at Oulton Park today (Saturday), heading Andrew Jordan and Aiden Moffat in a frenetic half hour qualifying session.

When the qualifying half-hour got underway there were dark clouds over the circuit, but conditions were very much improving. BMW's Colin Turkington posted the first representative time of the session, 1.3 seconds off team-mate Jordan's practice one pace, on a near-dry surface. Nevertheless there was a frenzy of activity, with Jordan, Ash Sutton and Matt Neal all demoting Turkington, Jordan's BMW by this point just a couple of tenths off his earlier mark.

Neal's Honda then got within a hundredth of Jordan's practice time, before the Pirtek BMW went a quarter of a second quicker. Neal tried to respond, just falling short, whilst his team-mate, reigning champion Gordon Shedden lapped third-fastest. On his next lap, however, Neal beat Jordan by a tenth to take provisional pole position as the session reached its halfway mark.

There were mid-session improvements from Josh Cook and Moffat to go fourth and fifth respectively. Top ten efforts from Rob Collard and title leader Tom Ingram were bumped down a place by Jake Hill taking sixth position, as many of the cars returned to the pitlane ready for another attack.

Late on Jason Plato had a spin at Cascades as Subaru team-mate Sutton moved up to third behind Neal and Jordan. Aiden Moffat dropped Sutton a place when he took third, and Mat Jackson improved to fifth place, just as Matt Simpson hit the barrier on the inside at Druids, which led to a brief stoppage.

The entire pitlane, minus Simpson's Honda, emptied for the final five minutes of qualifying when the session restarted. However, Martin Depper's Ford hit the barriers on the approach to Dentons, and with yellow flags showing until the final seconds of the session, there were only a few improvements. The biggest of these was from Colin Turkington, who recovered from the bottom of the top 20 to fourth place, salvaging his session.

Having waited six years for his last BTCC pole position at Thruxton, Neal topped his second qualifying session in a row, with Jordan second, hoping for a fast rear-wheel-drive start tomorrow, and Moffat third. Behind Turkington, Shedden held fifth from Sutton and a rejuvenated Mat Jackson, whilst Josh Cook was surprisingly disappointed with eighth place. Completing the top ten were Collard, celebrating his best qualifying for some time, and impressive rookie Senna Proctor for the Power Maxed Vauxhall team.

The first BTCC race of the weekend will take place at 12.17pm tomorrow (Sunday).

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Qualifying
1, Matt Neal, Halfords Yuasa Racing, Honda Civic Type R, 1:26.151s
2, Andrew Jordan, BMW Pirtek Racing, BMW 125i M-Sport,  +0.126s
3, Aiden Moffat, Laser Tools Racing, Mercedes A-Class, +0.249s
4, Colin Turkington, Team BMW, BMW 125i M-Sport, +0.458s
5, Gordon Shedden, Halfords Yuasa Racing, Honda Civic Type R, +0.461s
6, Ash Sutton, Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, Subaru Levorg, +0.511s
7, Mat Jackson, Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo, Ford Focus, +0.549s
8, Josh Cook, Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport, Ford Focus, +0.571s
9, Rob Collard, Team BMW, BMW 125i M-Sport, +0.587s
10, Senna Proctor, Power Maxed Racing, Vauxhall Astra, +0.615s 

Raceday tickets for the BTCC at Oulton Park on Sunday 21 May are available on the gate for £34 on Sunday, with free entry for under-13s. For more information, call 0843 453 9000 or click here.