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Civics to the fore as Jordan heads Neal in BTCC practice two

Saturday, March 31 2012

Andrew Jordan topped the times in the second practice session for the opening rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch today (Saturday). He was joined at the front by the works Civic of Matt Neal, in a marked contrast to the opening session. WSR's Tom Onslow-Cole was third, ahead of the impressive Rob Austin and a fighting Jason Plato.

Rob Austin was back on the pace as session two got underway, his times in sharp contrast to twelve months ago when the then-new Audi A4 struggled to make the grid. With a year's worth of experience working with a Next Generation Touring Car, he was able to make the most of his mount whilst the new cars continued to build up speed.

However it wouldn't last long as Matt Neal soon lapped within a quarter of a second of Austin's time, with Mat Jackson's S2000-specification Focus taking second. Neal then found half a second, just beating Collard's pace-setter from earlier on as the Honda Racing squad got into their stride. He was visibly quick but also beaten by Andrew Jordan's similar car.

Meanwhile Jason Plato was also on the move, posting the third-fastest time at this stage with a car that had barely run meaningful lap times before the weekend. The prospect of a resumption of hostilities at the sharp end between Neal and Plato was however tempered by their team-mates' fortunes at the time - both Neate and Shedden languished at the bottom of the table for the majority of the 40-minute session, a harsh reminder of the fragility of their new cars.

As many of the teams returned to the pits, there was an air of calm around the circuit, momentarily broken by the improving pace of Tom Onslow-Cole's BMW, and Austin, who both demoted Plato on the leaderboard.

Late on Jordan picked up his pace as he went on a qualifying-style run, picking up personal bests in the sectors, but unable to string them all together on one lap. Nevertheless he stubbornly remained ahead of the field, a Civic one-two seemingly unlikely just a couple of hours ago.

Earlier pacesetters WSR had all three cars in the top ten, however, with Onslow-Cole up to third ahead of Austin and Plato, which put them in a strong position for the qualifying session. Redstone's Mat Jackson also remains a threat in sixth, ahead of team mate Aron Smith, whilst the second Pirtek car of Jeff Smith was eighth.

The BTCC qualifying session will take place at 15:20 today.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Practice two times:

1, Andrew Jordan, Pirtek Racing, Honda Civic, 48.639s
2, Matt Neal, Honda Yuasa Racing Team, Honda Civic, +0.273s
3, Tom Onslow-Cole, eBay Motors, BMW 320si, +0.296s
4, Rob Austin, Rob Austin Racing, Audi A4, +0.407s
5, Jason Plato, MG KX Momentum Racing, MG6, +0.458s
6, Mat Jackson, Redstone Racing, Ford Focus ST, +0.514s
7, Aron Smith, Redstone Racing, Ford Focus ST, +0.669s
8, Jeff Smith, Pirtek Racing, Honda Civic, +0.680s
9, Robert Collard, eBay Motors, BMW 320si, +0.732s
10, Nick Foster, eBay Motors, BMW 320si, +0.805s

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch are available on the gate from £13. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.