Matt Neal said his Thruxton weekend had started better than expected after taking second on the grid for the latest rounds of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship.

The former double champion headed to Hampshire as title leader on the back of his triple podium finish in the opening rounds of year at Brands Hatch, but was forced to carry maximum ballast on his car as a result.

Despite that, the Vauxhall man was fourth quickest in the first practice session and then set the pace in the second session; which was shortened following the accident involving team-mate Fabrizio Giovanardi and Team RAC's Stephen Jelley.

While Giovanardi produced a stunning display in qualifying to take pole with just a single flying lap, Neal was equally as impressive as he took his ballast-laden car to the second fastest time to secure his place on the front row.

"We've had a better start to the weekend than I had expected," he said. :The car is fantastic around here, my fastest laps weren't completely clean, I made a couple of little mistakes on both, but to be on the front row with Fabrizio is job done from my perspective.

"The car does feel very hooked up around here, especially in qualifying trim, but tomorrow's another day. We're going to have our hands full, but we're starting in the right place for some good results."

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