Tordoff pips Cammish with last-gasp lap record at the UK’s fastest circuit
Qualifying for Round 7 of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship came down to the closing moments of an exciting session at Thruxton as Sam Tordoff snatched pole position from Dan Cammish.
Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance's Tordoff has managed a best race finish of 13th so far this season and the Yorkshireman is keen to put an end to his 'terrible start' to the 2019 campaign. His pace has never been in doubt, however, as was proven with a last gasp 1m15.511s flying lap around the UK's fastest circuit – enough to secure pole position and a new lap record.
A red flag brought a late halt to proceedings, when a collision between Mark Blundell's Audi and Tom Chilton's Ford sent the latter's car heavily into the barrier at the final chicane. With a little over four minutes on the clock remaining, the session in effect came down to a two-lap shootout when the action eventually got back underway.
Cammish was the first to improve in the Halfords Yuasa Racing's Honda Civic Type R, but Tordoff responded seemingly out of nowhere to ensure an all-Honda front row for tomorrow's opener.
The BMW duo of Andrew Jordan and Colin Turkington had been squabbling over provisional pole prior to the late stoppage, but eventually had to settle for third and fourth respectively. A second-row start for Jordan still represented an impressive result, particularly considering that his West Surrey Racing squad have had to rebuild the new 3 Series following his sizeable accident at Donington Park last month.
Rory Butcher was a front-runner all day and he duly backed up the pace of the previous-generation Civic Type R (FK2) with fifth in the AmD-run machine, completing a hugely successful afternoon for the Essex-based squad.
Jason Plato's return to the sharp end of the grid has been one of the stories of the 2019 season so far and the BTCC legend was at it again around the 2.36-mile Thruxton Circuit. When the dust eventually settled, Plato had fired his Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall into sixth.
Current championship leader – Ash Sutton – secured seventh for Adrian Flux Subaru Racing. The talented young racer never seemed likely to trouble the ultimate pace, but Sutton ensured he ended up with an extremely credible qualifying result in his success ballast-laden Levorg.
Matt Neal – pole-sitter at Thruxton in each of the last two seasons – endured a wild ride across the grass at Church in the opening ten minutes as he pushed too hard on his first run, but the three-time champion kept his cool to claim eighth with a solid lap on a fresh set of Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres.
Rob Collard (Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing) and Tom Oliphant (Team BMW) rounded out the top ten positions.
Sam Tordoff said: "It feels like a dream to be honest. The lap didn't feel particularly special but it all just came together. It's been a tricky day. I'm not a fan of this circuit in terms of how it suits my style. It’s one of those where you have to just take your brain out and go for it, which isn't really me. Rory (Butcher) has pushed me so hard today. It was important to do this and stick it right up there on the grid. We've had a terrible start to the season, we've barely scored any points and we should be up where Rory is in the standings. We've got to score big this weekend but I am delighted with that."
Dan Cammish said: "When you think mid-session we had power steering failure, it was a great result. The team showed their class again to get us back out. I don't know where my luck's gone. I found traffic on two laps and saw my team-mate backwards at Church and had to back out of it. I was thinking 'what more do I have to do?'. I under-drove the last lap as I didn't want to get pinged for track limits. On another day, I could have been on pole. I want to score a lot of points tomorrow and I won't be hanging about, put it that way. Even when I do well, I wonder how I can do better. We've got the speed, I've been racing a long time and when the luck comes back we'll be looking good."
Andrew Jordan said: "I thought it was a good session and I'm very happy for us to be up where we are after Donington Park and the work everybody's done on the car. We need to make sure we know what we're doing for the race. We'll be in the ball park tomorrow. It was about stringing it all together today, rather than being greedy. Our starts are very good and if we could come away with three top sixes tomorrow, I'd be very happy. We need to remember we want to be walking away with a big haul of points."
2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Thruxton Circuit
1 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance +1m15.511s (112.32mph)
2 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.030s
3 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.137s
4 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.143s
5 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance +0.213s
6 Jason PLATO (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +0.432s
7 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.475s
8 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.478s
9 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +0.528s
10 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +0.532s
11 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +0.587s
12 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Racing +0.670s
13 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +0.688s
14 Jake HILL (GBR) TradePriceCars.com +0.695s
15 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Team Toyota GB with Ginsters +0.775s
16 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.917s
17 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +0.945s
18 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +0.974s
19 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +0.982s
20 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.992s
21 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport +1.268s
22 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +1.489s
23 Jack GOFF (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +1.657s
24 Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with Motorbase +1.799s
25 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct +1.868s
26 Rob SMITH (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +2.286s
27 Michael CREES (GBR) GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct +3.239s
28 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +3.336s
29 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +3.796s
30 Mark BLUNDELL (GBR) TradePriceCars.com +7.045s