SEAT Supercup Ireland newcomer Jonathan Fildes showed just why he is one of the country’s most highly rated drivers, the former Motorsport Ireland International Driver of the Year securing pole position for tomorrow’s fifth round at Mondello Park. Only concluding a deal to run with reigning SEAT Supercup team champions Murray Motorsport earlier in the week, getting his first laps in the car on Thursday, Fildes would perfectly time getting the best from his Yokohama tyres needing just 3-quick laps to get the job done. After posting a time of 1:49.352, he would return to the pits and watch the remainder of the 15-minute qualifying session from the pit wall. It would end up being an all Murray Motorsport front row as Round 3 pole sitter Rob Butler managed to get to within 0.075 of his new team-mate. Behind them a very happy Barry English put in an impressive qualifying on the back of his Bishopscourt podium finish to complete the Top 3 only 3/10ths of a second off Butler with Niall Quinn fourth a further 1/10th off.
For championship leader Rob McGovern, driver error was to leave him P8 for the first of the two races, the MM Motorsport driver forgetting to release the car’s handbrake causing the rear brakes to overheat. His closest challenger in the points, Erik Holstein would also have problems. An electric fault kept causing his car to cutout during the session and only able to complete one trouble free lap that left him P6 behind the Barretstown car of Brian Berry. With Fildes on pole the best of the other debutants would be Dave O’Brien who ended up P7. With qualifying his first time to drive a Supercopa, the 2014 Irish Touring Car Champion ran old tyres but taking the switch to front wheel drive in his stride he will be one to watch tomorrow when he fits two new tyres.
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‘I’m over the moon’ was Fildes reaction to becoming the third different driver to secure pole position this season. He continued, ‘I was lying awake in bed at 3 o’clock this morning going through the gears in my head’. Admitting to feeling the pressure of the huge reaction his deal to join the championship had created, the Co. Meath driver said ‘Eoin (Murray) went through everything with me today and other than making a brake bias adjustment to the car it was perfect.’ Driving the Fish Graphics backed Leon which has already registered three wins this season, he added, ‘I’m very happy for the team, they have put in a lot of effort’. Looking to the first of tomorrow’s 2-races, and having never raced a front wheel drive car on the international circuit before he said, ‘I have never done a start in one (of the Supercopas) before and I know the start procedure is tricky but I’m sure Niall (Murray), Eoin or Erik will go through it with me to make sure I get the best start possible’.
Claiming a wet pole position in Bishopscourt, Butler said his P2 on the dry track ‘was ok apart from (his) glove got caught on the paddle’ causing the Dent Magic backed car to shift up early in turn 2. Enough to cost him the 0.075 he lacked over Fildes, he also had ‘no tyres to do another lap’ ending his chance of a second consecutive pole position. With a podium finish at each of the opening two events of his rookie season, the 24-year-old will be hoping to capitalise on team-mate Fildes’ lack of start experience with the 301bhp Leon saying he hopes to ‘get a good start off the line and lead out of turn one’.