Reigning Kwik Fit British Touring Car Champion Colin Turkington claimed pole position at Donington Park today (27 April) in a rain interrupted qualifying session at the famous East Midlands circuit.
Team BMW’s Turkington was one of several drivers to set a representative lap time during dry early running, before rain soon came into play. A dry line reappeared for a short while mid-session – enabling some drivers to make improvements – but the lead lap times weren’t to be troubled for the remainder of the session.
Drivers also had to contend with three red flag stoppages during the slightly truncated session as Bobby Thompson, Mark Blundell and Nic Hamilton all went off in separate incidents.
When the dust settled and the rain cleared at the end of a frenetic half hour it was Turkington celebrating his first BTCC pole position for more than two years, ahead of BTC’s Racing’s Josh Cook and Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Ash Sutton.
Cook took pole and a race victory at Donington in 2018, so the current standings leader has every chance of building on his impressive start to this season with further good results here tomorrow. Team-mate Chris Smiley confirmed the outstanding pace of the BTC Racing squad by clocking the fourth fastest time in the new Honda Civic Type R.
Pre-season pace-setter Sam Tordoff is looking to bounce back from a dismal weekend at Brands Hatch last time out, and the Yorkshireman is on the right track after taking fifth during qualifying in the Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Civic.
Speedworks Motorsport continue to make progress with its all-new Team Toyota GB with Ginsters Corolla as Tom Ingram claimed a top six starting berth for tomorrow’s opening race, and was followed on the timesheets by the manufacturer-backed Hondas of Dan Cammish and Matt Neal. The two Halfords Yuasa Racing drivers have been there or thereabouts so far in 2019, but are still yet to show their expected race-winning pace. Both Cammish and Neal are poised in solid grid positions tomorrow, however, and will be hoping to fight for victory as the day develops.
Tom Oliphant ensured that both Team BMW 3 Series’ qualified inside the top ten, whilst Rob Collard impressed with tenth in the Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra.
Jason Plato, Tom Chilton and Adam Morgan were among the BTCC big hitters to narrowly qualify outside of the top ten, whilst BMW Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan was left frustrated with 16th. Jordan was at the sharp end early on but was one of the drivers to be hampered by the red flags and conditions, although he will expect to move forward on race day.
Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will take place at Donington Park tomorrow. A sizeable crowd is expected at the Leicestershire circuit with many many more watching the action live and exclusively on ITV4 from 10:40am.
Colin Turkington said: “That was a really difficult session. Dick (Bennetts) told me to get a good lap in early on and I went like the clappers and got my lap in when the track was at its best. That was the first time we’d run in the dry this weekend so I was working hard. It’s a great feeling to get the first pole position for the new 3 Series and my first in about two years! I’ve not lost it yet! We had really good pace at Brands Hatch but got unlucky with the weather. We’re looking forward to what’ll hopefully be a good race day for us tomorrow.”
Josh Cook said: “That was hard work. It was the first time we’ve ever driven this car on the limit here on that flyer. We’ve a lot to learn about this car but we’re doing well and working hard. I’m chuffed to bits for the team, I hadn’t expected this. The ballast hurts us and the car drives very differently to anything I’ve driven before. We didn’t know what we had until I went for that lap and I still think we can find a bit more. We know which direction to go in. I’m comfortable around here in all conditions and we’ve learned an awful lot today – more than at Brands Hatch for sure. I’m excited but it’s a long day. I’m starting Race 1 on the hard tyre so I’m setting expectations realistically.”
Ash Sutton said: “We had a couple of rain dances in the garage before but they didn’t work… it was good enough for third though. We took a bit of a guess at the setup as I’m sure everybody did. Nobody’s done any dry running here. It’s not easy and it was a bit of a leap into the unknown. Let’s get to Croft and go from there. Brands Hatch, Donington and Thruxton are literally about collecting points. Every day’s a school day and you keep putting the car in different places. We’ve done a lot of work on the chassis, the aero and setup over the winter and I’m really pleased with that. The team gave me the car to do the job.”
2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Donington Park
1 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW 1m09.871s (101.96mph)
2 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +0.644s
3 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.664s
4 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Racing +0.767s
5 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance +0.779s
6 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Team Toyota GB with Ginsters +0.820s
7 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.829s
8 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.842s
9 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +0.902s
10 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +0.997s
11 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +1.020s
12 Jason PLATO (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +1.034s
13 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +1.144s
14 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +1.148s
15 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1.260s
16 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +1.375s
17 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +1.412s
18 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +1.638s
19 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance +1.683s
20 Jack GOFF (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +1.747s
21 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.792s
22 Jake HILL (GBR) TradePriceCars.com
23 Rob SMITH (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +1.823s
24 Michael CREES (GBR) GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct +1.989s
25 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +2.061s
26 Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with Motorbase +2.888s
27 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport +2.996s
28 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +3.291s
29 Mark BLUNDELL (GBR) TradePriceCars.
30 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct NO TIME