Saturday 15th July 2006

VX Racing's Tom Chilton set a blistering pace in this afternoon's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship qualifying session at Croft, making his competitors sweat to keep up in the sizzling heat.

For 29 minutes of the half-hour session, Chilton, from Reigate, was out on his own but James Thompson had saved his best until last and snatched pole by just four hundredths of a second, with no time for Chilton to respond.

Fabrizio Giovanardi improved throughout the session as he learnt the technical North Yorkshire circuit. He qualified sixth, just 0.167s off Thompson's time.

The power steering of Gavin Smith's Astra Sport Hatch failed a few laps into the session. The team managed to replace it but the Dubliner then had very little time to qualify and eventually finished 10th.

New VX Racing recruit, Erkut Kizilirmak, said working with the Banbury-based team had taught him a great deal already. The Turkish Touring Car Champion qualified 17th but says there is still a lot more to come from him.

John Morton, VX Racing Technical Director: "We knew the car had a lot more pace than it had shown in free practice. We've got a few issues with tyre wear but Tom and his race engineer, Simon, have got quite a good strategy. Rather than defend that pole position they've saved tyres for the races. The fresher they start the fresher they should finish!"

Tom Chilton: "With my fastest sectors added together I would have been on pole. Honestly, I think I could have done a 1m26s dead if I'd have strung the two halves of the circuit together but I thought everyone else would be quicker. "This is a wide circuit with lots of hard breaking so it should be good for over-taking in theory -
it's a proper touring car track."

Fabrizio Giovanardi: "I think it's normal for me to put in my quick lap very late. Step by step I find better places to turn as I'm learning the circuit. I'm only 0.167s off the pole position time,
and that's nothing so I'm very happy.
"It's a fun circuit, very technical. The problem is that sometimes I make mistakes because I'm not sure how to do a corner - it's all trial and error."

Gavin Smith: "The first free practice session was alright. The second I lost a wheel whilst I was running so I didn't do much with that and then in qualifying the power steering went. I've
never felt steering that heavy. The team fixed it and I had time to put in one flying lap at the end of the session.
"The car felt good and it was just poxy bad luck that stopped me doing better."

Erkut Kizilirmak: "It was a very tough day. I made a very big mistake - I chose the toughest tracks in Britain to compete in the BTCC! But I had great fun. Everybody has been very helpful.
"I tried to do my best but there are still lots of things that I can do more. I was getting consistently faster throughout the day and I still think there's lots of time that I'm losing but I'm learning - that's why I'm here."

1 James Thompson (SEAT Léon) 1:26.213
2 Tom Chilton (Astra Sport Hatch) +0.039
3 Matt Neal (Honda Integra) +0.060
4 Jason Plato (SEAT Leon) +0.127
5 Gordon Shedden (Honda Integra) +0.167
6 Fabrizio Giovanardi (Astra Sport Hatch) +0.167
7 Colin Turkington (MG ZS) +0.286
8 Mike Jordan (Honda Integra) +0.304
9 Robert Collard (MG ZS) +0.587
10 Gavin Smith (Astra Sport Hatch) +0.632
17 Erkut Kizilirmak (Astra Sport Hatch) +3.083