Halfords Yuasa Racing's Matt Neal has admitted his delight in securing a maiden pole position for Honda's latest British Touring Car Championship Civic Type-R machine at Thruxton.

The three-time champion took his second Thruxton pole in as many years after pulverising his previous lap record from last season ahead of Team BMW's Colin Turkington.

Neal went almost 0.5s faster than the previous Thruxton lap record set last season, which ultimately handed him an 18th career BTCC pole.

Having admitted in erring on the side of caution during his first run, even Neal said he was surprised to beat Turkington's initial benchmark, which was set at a 1 minute 15.647.

"I’m more chuffed its first pole position for the new car really. It’s a big weekend for us. It’s a home Grand Prix for Honda and its Yuasa’s 100 year anniversary as well," Neal told Crash.net.

"It’s quite a big weekend with a lot of pressure.

"I thought Turkington’s time was out of reach. The car on the second run was really hooked up. I think I was a little bit cautious on the first run. Especially with the kerbs because they’re being so strict with track limits at the chicane.

"I thought 'I’m going to throw caution to the wind'. We had a banker. Fifth wasn’t brilliant but at least we had a banker so we could hang it out a bit."

Although Neal is mindful that the fast starting RWD BMW of Turkington will probably get the jump on him for the lead into turn one, the Team Dynamics driver is optimistic his new Honda Civic Type-R should have the beating of the 1 Series over a race distance.

"Turkington will get us off the start. We did a race run in FP2 and it was good. It’s just getting past him! I think we’ve got the pace to beat him. We’ve just got to try and make the best start we can and work it from there," Neal continued.

"If you look on paper and data the new Type-R is a step in every direction. Its attributes should suit Thruxton. It’s a longer wheelbase which should suit the faster corners. It’s better aero but the luck hasn’t gone our way so far.

"We just need a bit of that lady luck tomorrow."



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