Nelson King maintained his impressive start to the Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy season by grabbing a maiden pole position for the first BTCC support meeting of the campaign at Thruxton.

King arrives at the fastest circuit on the calendar as championship leader thanks to his triple win in the season opener at Pembrey, and the Graves Motorsport driver was able to strengthen his position in the standings after topping the times in the half hour long session.

Pole would be set early in the session, with King dipping under the lap record set last year by Charlie Mann in the early stages.

A time of 1:30.934s would ultimately prove to be unbeatable despite the best efforts of the remainder of the field, with King taking stop spot by more than a quarter of a second and grabbing the six bonus points.

“I don’t think the margin is too important around here and I don’t think I’ll be able to get away like I did at Pembrey,” he said. “Anywhere in the top ten here would have given us a chance to fight for victory and it’s important to be consistent in the races and make sure we stick with the lead pack so we can be in the mix for the win.”

King will be joined on the front row by EXCELR8 racer Matt Hammond – the man who beat him to pole for the Pembrey season opener.

Hammond will now hope for a repeat of last year’s opening race, where he qualified second on the grid behind Alex Solley but then went on to take the race win.

“It would have been nice to get the bonus points, particularly ahead of Nelson, but anything can happen here,” he said. “You could come out of the opening lap in the lead, or you might get run wide and end up right at the back.

“This is a circuit where you don’t always want to be at the front with the tow and apart from the points, I think being second is actually a better place to be.”

Louie Capozzoli – double winner at Thruxton last season – posted the third quickest time for AReeve Motorsport and will share the second row with Joe Wiggin as the PerformanceTek Racing driver was able to show his potential at the wheel of the Pantera Carpentry-backed car following a tough season opener at Pembrey.

Nicky Taylor and Lee Pearce, both of whom scored podiums in the opening weekend, will share the third row of the grid with Charlie Mann and Alex Solley – the two pole sitters from last year – on row four.

Ben Jenkins and Mike Paul round out the top ten, with leading rookie Jack Byrne in eleventh.

Debutant Lauren Tayla was able to come through her maiden qualifying session without major drama and will take the start from 29th place.