SEAT, Turner achieve first diesel pole

Darren Turner has qualified on pole position for the first of today's HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire.

Turner set a best lap time of 1m25.823s to achieve the first ever pole position for a diesel-powered car in the BTCC - namely his SEAT Leon TDI.

And it could have been an all-SEAT front row on todays starting grid had team-mate Jason Plato not been pipped on the last lap of the session by Gordon Shedden's Team Halfords Honda Civic.

Shedden had been left with only one final attempt after his earlier times were disallowed when his car failed a mandatory ride-height test. But on his final lap he produced a time of 1m25.926s to go second fastest. 

Plato was third and, although disappointed not to keep second spot, will be quietly encouraged after his chief title rival Fabrizio Giovanardi posted only the 12th fastest time.

Italian Giovanardi, who currently leads the championship, is having to cope with maximum success ballast - an extra 45kgs - in his Vauxhall Vectra VXR and he has plenty to do in tomorrow's three rounds if he is to prevent the chasing Plato from closing in on him.

Meanwhile, Turner said: "The car felt great all session and so it was down to me to produce the goods. It's a shame Gordon denied us a 1-2, but that was quite a lap from him when the pressure was on. He's going to be tough work tomorrow."

Shedden added: "That really was a case of driving at 100 per cent, but I knew I only had one chance so couldn't put a wheel wrong. Second in the circumstances is a very good result and I'm confident my car will be strong over a race distance tomorrow."

Leading BTCC qualifying times, Croft (provisional):

1. Darren Turner (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon TDI, 1m25.825s2. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Civic, +0.101s3. Jason Plato (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon TDI, +0.202s4. Colin Turkington (GBR), Team RAC/BMW 320si, +0.348s5. Matt Neal (GBR), VX Racing/Vauxhall Vectra VXR, +0.401s6. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), VX Racing/Vauxhall Vectra VXR, +0.413s7. Mat Jackson (GBR), BMW Dealer Team UK/BMW 320si, +0.429s8. Tom Chilton (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Civic, +0.544s9. Adam Jones (GBR), Team Air Cool/SEAT Leon, +0.663s10. Steven Kane (GBR), Motorbase/BMW 320si, +0.736s