Championship leader takes pole position ahead of BTCC season finale
Team BMW’s Colin Turkington crushed his title rivals during qualifying at Brands Hatch for Round 28 of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, as the standings leader secured a commanding third pole position of the season and the 20th of his illustrious career.
The wet conditions, which intensified throughout the 30 minutes of running, provided high-class entertainment for the fans but the ultimate challenge for the drivers around the legendary Grand Prix circuit.
Four of the five championship contenders endured off-track moments during the session as the likes of Josh Cook, Tom Ingram and Dan Cammish took to the grass on flying laps, whilst Andrew Jordan’s session ended in the gravel after he out-braked himself at the ultra-fast Hawthorn Bend.
Keeping his head as those around him were losing theirs, reigning champ Turkington produced a number of timed laps that eclipsed the rest of the field.
The #1 BMW circled the 2.43-mile track faster and faster during the best of the conditions and Turkington’s 1:40.752s lap time would prove to be the untouchable benchmark at the finish.
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Ash Sutton fell short by 0.316s – a significant margin in the BTCC – whilst BMW Pirtek Racing’s Jordan will be relieved to have secured third despite his off.
Jordan’s moment came with just over five minutes remaining as he tried to challenge Turkington’s provisional pole lap, but he would eventually cause the second red flag stoppage of the session, losing his fastest lap time as per the rules. The other halt in proceedings happened early on when Matt Simpson’s Honda slid off on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend.
Jack Sears Trophy rivals Tom Oliphant (Team BMW) and Rory Butcher (Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance) will line-up together on the grid in fourth and fifth respectively, whilst local man Jake Hill (TradePriceCars.com) and Chris Smiley (BTC Racing) were next in the order.
It will be an all BTC Racing fourth row with Cook lining up alongside his team-mate, as the Bath racer kept his faint championship hopes alive with eighth.
Mike Bushell (Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance) and Aiden Moffat (Laser Tools Racing) completed the top ten positions.
Cammish’s title aspirations were dealt a blow as the Halfords Yuasa Racing man could only manage 12th. The Honda star, who has impressively fired himself into contention during recent race weekends, was already languishing outside of the top ten as he set off on his final run. Having made set-up changes to his Honda Civic Type R (FK8) the Yorkshireman pushed too hard through Hawthorn and had to recover from a minor excursion.
Team Toyota GB with Ginsters’ Tom Ingram – the fifth and final driver in mathematical contention to win the most coveted prize in British motorsport – will have it all to do from 17th on the grid tomorrow; the multiple race winner is now 62 points off the championship summit with only 66 left to play for during tomorrow’s season finale triple header.
It is Turkington holding the cards as the pole-sitter extended his points advantage with the final pole position of the season. Cammish now sits 17 points behind the standings leader, with Jordan a further point in arrears. Cook will need to overturn a 37-point deficit if he is to win a maiden BTCC title.
Rounds 28, 29 and 30 of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will take place at Brands Hatch tomorrow with a large crowd expected in Kent, whilst many many more will watch the action live and exclusively on ITV4 from 10:30-18:30.
Colin Turkington said: “Those little bonus points can really add up. I’m super happy to be on pole and I wasn’t expecting it. We’ve been working away all day but it’s been a lottery with the weather. We rolled the dice but I knew from very early on in the session it was fast. It worked in my favour and I’m just happy to have survived that one. I was cautious not to try too hard at the end in tricky conditions as it seemed to get worse out there. If it had been full dry, it would have been more difficult for me with the ballast on. In-between is difficult for rear-wheel drive cars so it being full-wet was a plus. This sets things up for what will be a huge day tomorrow.”
Dan Cammish said: “I was really struggling in that one. The car was really strong in FP1 and FP2 in the damp but this was full wet and early on it felt a bit like I was driving on ice at times. I couldn’t steer and it wanted to swap on me every time I turned in. If anyone’s ever put tea trays under their rear tyres and given it a bit of a blast, that’s what it felt like! We cracked the setup late on but got caught in traffic which is frustrating. We should have been a lot higher than that. We weren’t realistically beating BMW today. I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ll get my head down and come out fighting tomorrow.”
Andrew Jordan said: “I screwed up is what happened. I was pushing a little bit too much and locked the fronts. In those conditions, there’s no room for error but luckily we’d done two times already, so I’m still third. I knew it’d still stand even after my best time was taken away. The car was much more on a knife-edge in qualifying than in practice. I didn’t feel like I was able to challenge Colin (Turkington) as a result, so we’ll sit down and look at setups tonight.”
Josh Cook said: “It was a bit hit and miss. It rained throughout but it was changeable so you’d arrive at a corner the next lap and it’d be completely different. We got a time in early, but the conditions deteriorated and after the red flag everyone was battling hard to get a lap time in. P8 isn’t too bad. I’ve got Chris (Smiley) just ahead, Turkington on pole, Jordan P3 and we are where we are. I’ll get my head down tomorrow. It wasn’t a clean qualifying session and we needed a bit of a favour from Lady Luck but it didn’t happen. We’re not in a bad place.”
Tom Ingram said: “There’s not too much I want to talk about from that session really and it wasn’t representative of where we were in FP1 and FP2. The added rain affected the track more than we expected and we were a lot further away than we’d hoped. It’s still early days for our Corolla in the wet. We’ll come back fighting tomorrow. I was never realistically looking at us being in contention and it’s been nice to be involved. You want to win it but really we weren’t going to this weekend. We’ll be in a good place tomorrow in any case. It’s been such a positive year for the new car in its first season; being in mathematical contention into the final weekend is way more than we could have expected and we can look back with a lot of pride all-in.”
2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Brands Hatch GP
1 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW 1m40.752s (86.94mph)
2 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.316s
3 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.768s
4 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +0.874s
5 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance +0.885s
6 Jake HILL (GBR) TradePriceCars.com +1.161s
7 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Racing +1.332s
8 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +1.399s
9 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance +1.405s
10 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1.414s
11 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +1.417s
12 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.463s
13 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.488s
14 Michael CAINE (GBR) Motorbase Performance +1.653s
15 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.675s
16 Jason PLATO (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +1.692s
17 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Team Toyota GB with Ginsters +1.730s
18 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct +1.903s
19 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +2.082s
20 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +2.275s
21 Mark BLUNDELL (GBR) TradePriceCars.com +2.607s
22 Jack GOFF (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +2.614s
23 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing +2.875s
24 Rob SMITH (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +2.994s
25 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +3.029s
26 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) RCIB Insurance with Fox Transport +3.215s
27 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Cataclean Racing with Ciceley Motorsport +3.275s
28 Michael CREES (GBR) GKR Scaffolding with Autobrite Direct +3.822s
29 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Excelr8 Motorsport +4.764s
30 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +6.794s