Halfords Racing with Cataclean star takes penultimate pole position of BTCC season
Three-time BTCC champion Gordon Shedden claimed his first pole position of the season earlier today (9 October), as the Halfords Racing with Cataclean star dipped under the existing Donington Park qualifying lap record by just 0.004s.
Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing also had cause to celebrate as Daniel Lloyd and Jason Plato claimed second and third respectively.
The popular ‘Top Ten Showdown’ format was in operation for the third and final time this season, with the opening part of qualifying providing some startling lap times.
BTC Racing’s Senna Proctor led the way in the early segment with the top five cars separated by an incredible 0.068s, and the all-important top ten blanketed by a breathtaking 0.279s.
Such was the ultra-competitiveness that title contenders Tom Ingram (Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com) and Jake Hill (MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square) failed to make the showdown, as did practice pace-setter Adam Morgan (Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport) in his BMW 3 Series.
With lap times reset ahead of the final ten-minute session, all ten cars rejoined the 1.98-mile circuit to produce yet more fast and frenetic action.
Both Vauxhall Astras of Lloyd and Plato were on fine form – following the squad’s best showing of the season at Silverstone last time out – with pole position looking very much on the cards.
When the dust settled, however, it was Shedden rolling back the years to set the fastest BTCC lap ever around the famous Leicestershire circuit, as he edged out Lloyd by 0.033s, whilst Plato almost made it an old school front row for Sunday’s opener.
Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Rory Butcher continued his recent run with fourth, fresh from his pole position and double victory at Silverstone two weeks ago, whilst Proctor had to settle for fifth on the grid.
Colin Turkington will look to keep his championship chances alive tomorrow with the Team BMW man fighting from sixth in the order, whilst Daniel Rowbottom completed a good day for the Team Dynamics-run Hondas with seventh.
Chris Smiley enjoyed a successful Saturday as he backed up his impressive practice pace with eighth in the showdown, whilst title challengers Ash Sutton (Laser Tools Racing) and Josh Cook (BTC Racing) completed the top ten.
Sutton holds a 36-point advantage in the Drivers’ Standings over Ingram, with Hill, Turkington and Cook all close behind.
Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship take place at Donington Park tomorrow (10 October) with all three vital races of the penultimate race weekend of the campaign being screened live and exclusively on ITV4 from 1125.
Gordon Shedden said: “The car felt good today, but you’ve got to believe, and today I really believed that I was in it, a cracking lap in both sessions. It’s fantastic to have it go just my way – it was so, so close. These guys did a great job, but it’s fantastic to start from pole. I’m really, really happy.
“The most important thing is that the car feels really nice. It’s been in that sweet spot all day today, so hopefully it will transfer that to tomorrow. It’s been a long season and a lot has happened. So, to have the cards fall my way today, you wouldn’t believe how happy that makes me feel inside. You can see it from the looks on everyone’s faces in the team too so that’s really, really great.
“Everyone thrives on a little bit of momentum, and I think we never really got that momentum going this year, but fingers crossed we can finish the season strongly and see how we go.”
Dan Lloyd said: “That was amazing! We’ve had a really tough day: P18 in FP1, P12 in FP2. I think we’ve done about 11 flying laps all day. The car’s been in the garage as we’ve had issues with the setup, but we’ve really turned that around. We were P8 in the first bit of qualifying, then we made more tweaks. It’s really been about chipping away at it and driving the car to its full potential. I’m over the moon with a front row start in P2 and we’re on top of the car now, so what a turnaround for a day.
“To be honest with you, the issue this morning was because we’ve been trying some big things on the car that have been different to Silverstone. It was worth the risk because we want to keep moving forward, but those things didn’t work so we reverted back to how we did it at Silverstone and it just proves we’re finding something because we’ve gone back to it and we’re doing pretty good!”
Jason Plato said: “We’ve had a good run this morning and not really had any issues. We’ve just chipped away and slowly but surely improved the balance, we found something yesterday on the data. I had a call with my engineer and we just trawled through the data for a couple of hours. We didn’t really understand, my car, not necessarily Dan’s but certainly mine just doesn’t accelerate very well.
“We found an issue. So, they’ve made some changes and it appears to have made quite a difference. I don’t know where we are down the straights, but it feels better than we were. So I’m pleased, I think our race pace will be okay. It would be nice to get into the lead and spear off. Get nice fresh air in the front of the car, but I think that’s going to be difficult. It would be ace to win some races; it’s what I’m here for.”
2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Top Ten Showdown – Donington Park
1 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean 1:08.994s
2 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +0.033s
3 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +0.153s
4 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +0.220s
5 Senna PROCTOR(GBR) BTC Racing +0.288s
6 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.306s
7 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.366s
8 Chris SMILEY (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.471s
9 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.499s
10 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +0.550s
2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Donington Park
1 Senna PROCTOR(GBR) BTC Racing 1:09.051s
2 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.025s
3 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.034s
4 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.047s
5 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.068s
6 Chris SMILEY (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.183s
7 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +0.252s
8 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +0.254s
9 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +0.223s
10 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +0.279s
11 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.316s
12 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.323s
13 Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.334s
14 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +0.358s
15 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.387s
16 Jade EDWARDS (GBR) PHSC with BTC Racing +0.460s
17 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +0.468s
18 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +0.474s
19 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.487s
20 Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Team HARD. with HUB Financial Solutions +0.522s
21 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.610s
22 Jack MITCHELL (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +0.628s
23 Jack BUTEL (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.669s
24 Sam SMELT (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +0.727s
25 Rick PARFITT (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +0.815s
26 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +0.830s
27 Andy NEATE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +0.975s
28 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1.008s
29 Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with iQuoto Online Trading +1.641s