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Qualifying report: Neal takes first pole position of year

Matt Neal took his first pole position of the season at Brands Hatch today, edging out Yvan Muller by just 0.147 seconds. James Kaye reinforced the apparent strength of the Honda Civics at Brands by putting in his best performance of the season, setting the third quickest time. James Thompson was fourth quickest, with Luke Hines rounding out the top five.

After bagging the top spot, Neal commented: "It's about time! It's the first [pole position] we've had this year. It's a good job we pulled one out of the bag at the end because Yvan was on a charge. The car feels superb around here this weekend, it's really running sweet. It's great because the guys had quite a lot of work to do after Knockhill, and they only finished the car on Friday. We have to hope things go well for the race now."

Having stormed to a double victory at Knockhill, Anthony Reid struggled today, managing nothing better than a 15th place grid spot for round 22 tomorrow. His West Surrey Racing teammate, Colin Turkington, also endured a difficult session, ending up 12th fastest.

Reid was far from slow around the Indy circuit, and was just 0.629secs off of Neal's best time, but on the shortest circuit on the calendar, it only takes a tenth of a second to make a difference. Whilst the MGs have run well at Brands Hatch previously, the ballast from their success at Knockhill seemed to be hitting hard.

Both Rob Collard and Shaun Watson-Smith featured at the top end of the times in the early stages of the session, but dropped down the order towards the end. For Collard it was gearbox trouble, whilst Watson-Smith came close to matching his time from the first morning practice session.

Watson-Smith said: "This is a huge weekend for me. It is probably our last chance to get a good result because Snetterton and Donington don't really suit our car. We have been here before and we went quite well."

Jason Plato starts Sunday's first race in tenth position and will surely be looking to finish in the same position and take pole for race two. Having switched from Astra Coupé to Alfa Romeo 156, Stefan Hodgetts qualified in an impressive 8th position. The session was red flagged after just one minute when Carl Breeze and Fariqe Hairuman collided at the entrance to the Druids hairpin. Neither took any further part in the session.

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