Turkington snares pole at Croft
13 June 2009
Colin Turkington has closed to within a point of Matt Neal at the head of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship standings after picking up the bonus point on offer for pole position at Croft.
The Team RAC man, a double winner last time out at Oulton Park, posted a best time of 1min 26.006secs to outpace Jason Plato for pole, and will look to overhaul Neal for the title lead in the opening race after the current points leader could manage only eighth quickest at the wheel of his ballast heavy Vectra.
“This is perfect,” Turkington said. “It's exactly where we needed to be and with Matt back in eighth it's looking even better. But it's only 50 per cent of the job done – there are no guarantees how things will work out on Sunday.”
Racing Silverline ace Plato prevented Team RAC from locking out the front row of the grid as he split Turkington and team-mate Stephen Jelley, while Adam Jones will start from fourth on the grid having set his quickest time late on despite oil on the circuit from the expiring engine of Tom Onslow-Cole's Ford Focus ST.
Despite feeling under the weather, Mat Jackson posted the fifth quickest time in the second of the Silverline cars and will share row three with the similar Chevrolet Lacetti of Harry Vaulkhard for his home event.
“After the technical dramas I had at Oulton Park stopped me taking a couple of possible podiums, I said I was hoping to find a four leaf clover,” Jackson said. “Instead all I found was a dodgy curry!
“In all seriousness though, I know Racing Silverline is going to go well here tomorrow and I can't wait to show the fans what I'm made of. The BMWs are going to be fast off the line, so we'll be trying to outsmart them come Sunday afternoon. Obviously it would have been nice to take the top slot, but given how green I'm feeling I'm happy with fifth. It shows how important it is to set a good time early on in the half-hour session. I actually know I could have bettered it, but I was blocked by slower drivers on my last flying lap.”
Andrew Jordan was the quickest of the Vauxhall drivers in seventh, ahead of Neal, who admitted that the loss of time during practice – where he collided with a tyre stack and damaged the front of his car – had worked against him.
"The BMWs always really suit the hot conditions like today and I was on the backfoot a bit considering I missed one of the practice sessions this morning with some damage to my car,” he said. “I'm not overly disheartened – I've given it everything and we'll just see where we end up tomorrow. There's a forecast for slightly cooler weather which could bring us right back into it.”
Behind Neal, James Thompson was ninth for Team Dynamics having earlier set the pace in the first practice session, while Rob Collard completed the top ten, although the Airwaves BMW man admitted he had hoped for more.
“I'm a little bit frustrated to have qualified in tenth,” he said. “The car felt quite strong but we are further away from the front than we thought we would be. I was struggling a bit in the braking zones so that's something we will have to work hard to iron out. I'm confident the boys in the garage will deliver a very good set-up for the races though, and we will be able to challenge for strong finishes.”
Collard's rookie team-mate Jonathan Adam was eleventh quickest ahead of Dan Eaves, but the session proved to be trying for defending champion Fabrizio Giovanardi who could only secure 13th on the grid.
“I think I'm having the same problems as Matt, where we're just not getting the car to work when the track is hot and we're carrying the extra weight,” he said. “It's something we'll need to work on in testing next month, but for today we'll just have to make the best that we can of it. We're only just over a tenth of a second off Matt, yet that's five places back. I have my work cut out for the first race tomorrow, but, for sure, we can make up places.”
James Nash will start 14th ahead of Paul O'Neill, who was the final driver to qualify within a second of pole. Dave Pinkney was 16th ahead of Team Aon pair Tom Chilton and Onslow-Cole, while John George, Martyn Bell and Martin Johnson rounded out the field.