Dave Newsham has taken a shock pole position in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s first qualifying session of 2012 at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.
Inverness’s Newsham (pictured), driving a Vauxhall Vectra for the tiny ES Racing.com team, set a best lap of 48.483s early on. All the fancied front-runners then had their attempts thwarted by ‘traffic’ on the cramped Brands Indy circuit and could not beat him. It meant a career-first pole for Newsham who will line up at the front of the starting grid for the first of tomorrow's three races.
Worcestershire’s Matt Neal, the reigning champion, was second fastest in his Honda Yuasa Racing Team Honda Civic ahead of Hampshire racer Robert Collard’s eBay Motors BMW.
Lichfield’s Andrew Jordan equalled Collard’s time to end up fourth in his Pirtek Racing Civic and it could have been higher had he not stumbled across the slowing car of Newsham’s team-mate Chris James on his final flying lap. Collard’s team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole, from New Malden, was fifth ahead of Oxford’s Jason Plato, the double Champion an impressive sixth in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6 on its debut outing.
The elated Newsham said: “I’ve very surprised because we had some problems in the earlier practice sessions but over the moon at the same time. Our race pace seems good as well and I’m certainly not fazed at all by starting from pole position tomorrow – I’ve had plenty of experience of that in other formulae. Besides I’m here to win.”
Neal commented: “If you’d told me I’d have been second with a new car in its early stages of development I’d have bitten your hand off so I’m pleased with that. Hats off to Dave Newsham and ES Racing – they’re still new to the championship and have done a very impressive job. What we need tomorrow are three solid results.”
Meanwhile’s Neal’s Scottish team-mate Gordon Shedden, last year’s championship runner-up, was back in ninth after his car joined the session late following on-going mechanical problems in practice. Another of the top names, Mat Jackson, was back in 11th in his Redstone Racing Ford Focus ST.
Sunday’s three races will be shown live during a mammoth seven-hour broadcast on ITV4 and ITV HD as well as the itv.com website.
BTCC Qualifying, Brands Hatch Indy, 31 March 2012 (provisional)
1. Dave Newsham (GBR), ES Racing.com/Vauxhall Vectra, 48.483s
2. Matt Neal (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing/Honda Civic, +0.132s
3. Robert Collard (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.215s
4. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Honda Civic, +0.215s
5. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.385s
6. Jason Plato (GBR), MG KX Momentum Racing/MG6, +0.385s
7. Rob Austin (GBR), Rob Austin Racing/Audi A4, +.400s
8. Frank Wrathall (GBR), Dynojet/Toyota Avensis, +0.480s
9. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Yuasa Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.539s
10. Nick Foster (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +0.595s