Championship leader Colin Turkington dominated his championship rivals to take a brilliant pole position in a dramatic qualifying at Brands Hatch GP. Turkington’s 3rd pole of the season and 20th of his career could well prove to be one of the most important as the Team BMW driver ensured he will start race one ahead of all four of his title rivals.
It was a dramatic session held in increasingly wet conditions and all of Turkington’s championship rivals had off-track moments as they chased lap times and Turkington’s teammate Andrew Jordan’s session ended in the gravel as he out-braked himself at Hawthorn.
As his title rivals struggled around him, Turkington showed all his years of BTCC experience as he put in a 1:40.752s lap to finish 0.316s ahead of the Subaru Levorg of Ash Sutton. Despite failing to finish the session, Andrew Jordan will start race one in 3rd position with Jack Sears Trophy contenders Tom Oliphant and Rory Butcher in 4th and 5th respectively.
Post-qualifying Turkington said “Those little bonus points can really add up. I’m super happy to be on pole and I wasn’t expecting it. We’ve been working away all day but it’s been a lottery with the weather. We rolled the dice but I knew from very early on in the session it was fast. It worked in my favour and I’m just happy to have survived that one. I was cautious not to try too hard at the end in tricky conditions as it seemed to get worse out there. If it had been fully dry, it would have been more difficult for me with the ballast on. In-between is difficult for rear-wheel-drive cars so it being full-wet was a plus.”
Turkington’s teammate Jordan will be eyeing a strong race one to cut into the deficit. After qualifying, he said “I screwed up is what happened. I was pushing a little bit too much and locked the fronts. In those conditions, there’s no room for error but luckily we’d done two times already, so I’m still third. I knew it’d still stand even after my best time was taken away. The car was much more on a knife-edge in qualifying than in practice. I didn’t feel like I was able to challenge Colin (Turkington) as a result, so we’ll sit down and look at setups tonight.”
Jake Hill and Chris Smiley will start 6th and 7th, before Josh Cook, who is chasing the overall title and Independent’s crown in 8th. Mike Bushell and Aiden Moffat completed the top ten.
Josh Cook said “It was a bit hit and miss. It rained throughout but it was changeable so you’d arrive at a corner the next lap and it’d be completely different. We got a time in early, but the conditions deteriorated and after the red flag everyone was battling hard to get a lap time in. P8 isn’t too bad. I’ve got Chris (Smiley) just ahead, Turkington on pole, Jordan P3 and we are where we are. I’ll get my head down tomorrow. It wasn’t a clean qualifying session and we needed a bit of a favour from Lady Luck but it didn’t happen. We’re not in a bad place.”
It was a disappointing session for Dan Cammish and Tom Ingram, both of whom would have been looking to outqualify the likes of Turkington and Jordan. Both Cammish and Ingram struggled in the wet conditions and will start from 12th and 17th on the grid.
Cammish lamented the setup of his Honda Civic Type R in wet conditions saying “I was really struggling in that one. The car was really strong in FP1 and FP2 in the damp but this was full wet and early on it felt a bit like I was driving on ice at times. I couldn’t steer and it wanted to swap on me every time I turned in. If anyone’s ever put tea trays under their rear tyres and given it a bit of a blast, that’s what it felt like! We cracked the setup late on but got caught in traffic which is frustrating. We should have been a lot higher than that. We weren’t realistically beating BMW today. I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ll get my head down and come out fighting tomorrow.”
Ingram, who has the smallest mathematical chance at the title said “There’s not too much I want to talk about from that session really and it wasn’t representative of where we were in FP1 and FP2. The added rain affected the track more than we expected and we were a lot further away than we’d hoped. It’s still early days for our Corolla in the wet. We’ll come back fighting tomorrow. I was never realistically looking at us being in contention and it’s been nice to be involved. You want to win it but really we weren’t going to this weekend. We’ll be in a good place tomorrow in any case. It’s been such a positive year for the new car in its first season; being in mathematical contention into the final weekend is way more than we could have expected and we can look back with a lot of pride all-in.”
Turkington’s pole position means that he extends his championship lead by one point, with the margin now sitting at 17 points over Dan Cammish and 18 points over Andrew Jordan. Josh Cook will need to overcome a 37-point deficit if he is to win the crown, but it’s Tom Ingram with the most work to do as Turkington’s extra point puts him 62 points ahead of the Toyota man with 66 left to play for.
Brands Hatch GP Qualifying Times
1 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW 1m40.752s (86.94mph)
2 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.316s
3 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.768s
4 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +0.874s
5 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance +0.885s
6 Jake HILL (GBR) TradePriceCars.com +1.161s
7 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Racing +1.332s
8 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +1.399s
9 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance +1.405s
10 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1.414s
11 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +1.417s
12 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.463s
13 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.488s
14 Michael CAINE (GBR) Motorbase Performance +1.653s
15 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.675s
16 Jason PLATO (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +1.692s
17 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Team Toyota GB with Ginsters +1.730s
18 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct +1.903s
19 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +2.082s
20 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +2.275s
21 Mark BLUNDELL (GBR) TradePriceCars.com +2.607s
22 Jack GOFF (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +2.614s
23 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +2.875s
24 Rob SMITH (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +2.994s
25 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +3.029s
26 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +3.215s
27 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport +3.275s
28 Michael CREES (GBR) GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct +3.822s
29 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +4.764s
30 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +6.794s