After unstable weather in free practice which saw Josh Cook top the time sheets, qualifying for the title decider started in similar unpredictable conditions.
Just two minutes into the session rain started to speckle the windscreens of the early starters, which included the WSR BMW’s of Tordoff and Collard. There was a potential problem with Collard’s car who pitted unexpectedly after his out lap, with his unprepared mechanics jacking the car up and inspecting the undercarriage. The car was fixed with Collard later reporting to only being able to select third gear.
On the 26 minute mark, a mad scramble of cars left the pit lane, anxious to set a half decent time should the heavens open and ruin any chance of setting a fast time.
Mat Jackson looked to be on an absolute mission in his Motorbase Focus and was visually irate with slower drivers not getting out of his way quick enough.
Westfield corner saw the most of the drizzle and there was a hairy moment for Jeff Smith as his Civic stepped sideways due to cold tyres and a slippy track..
Josh Cook was again at the top with a time of 1:34.688 for a short time before a flurry of drivers crossed the line and Tom Ingram posted a time of 1:33:478.
Ingram stayed there for a while as Aron Smith lost control at Hawthorn, entered the gravel trap and flipped the car onto it’s side as the tyres dug in. This prompted the red flags to wave and the session was stopped whilst Smith’s Passat was righted.
The rain continued to fall as the session was green flagged and provisional pole sitter, Tom Ingram, returned to the pits after the out lap realising that no one would better his time in the current conditions and staying out would just jeopardize his chances of staying on track.
Collard was the man under pressure at the restart as his earlier gearbox problem had prevented him from setting a lap time and his rear wheel drive BMW was struggling in the slippy conditions.
Conditions started to improve with ten minutes of the session left but Collards times were still way off the pace, his time 28th on the grid.
Tom Ingram returned to the track with 9 minutes left of the session and many drivers starting to improve their lap times from this set in the drizzle.
Meanwhile, Colin Turkington moved to third place and then set a best session time in the first and second sectors as the track continued to evolve and went on to post a 1:32:422 to go provisional pole and beat Ingrams time by a full second.
The Subaru continued to improve as did Collard and many other drivers and a rapid exchange of grid positions ensued, far too many for this old timer to keep up with.
Ash Sutton had THREE lap times removed for exceeding track limits.
Tom Ingram came out in diminishing conditions with just a couple of minutes left and was looking rapid despite the precipitation. Ultimately though, it was the flying Levorg of Colin Tukington that stole the pole with Ingram just six thousandths of a second behind him.
Rob Collard recovered from his sliding antics to go 13th, with team mate Tordoff in a very respectable 11th considering his car was carrying maximum ballast.
Rob Austin finished 3rd, Plato 4th, and the Power Maxed Chevy of Hunter Abbott 5th.
The Hondas of Shedden and Neal finished 8th and 12th respectively.
Despite his early aggression, Mat Jackson was 1.7 seconds behind pole and starts his Motorbase Focus in 20th.
Here’s the full quali positions for race one and it’s a nicely mixed bag. Popcorn at the ready for tomorrow!!
- Colin Turkington. Silverline Subaru BMR Racing 1:31:838
- Tom Ingram. Speedworks Motorsport +0.006
- Rob Austin Handy Motorsport +0.214
- Jason Plato Silverline Subaru BMR Racing + 0.221
- Hunter Abbott Power Maxed Racing + 0.228
- Josh Cook MG Racing RCIB Insurance + 0.258
- Jack Goff Team IHG Rewards Club +0.366
- Gordon Shedden Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.482
- Adam Morgan WIX Racing +0.553
- Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Racing +0.743
- Sam Tordoff Team JCT600 with GardX +0.849
- Matt Neal Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.019
- Robert Collard Team JCT600 with GardX +1.142
- Andrew Jordan Pirtek Racing +1.247
- Michael Epps RCIB Insurance Racing +1.257
- Ashley Sutton MG Racing RCIB Insurance +1.261
- Ollie Jackson AmD Tuning.com +1.541
- Matt Simpson Speedworks Motorsport +1.563
- Martin Depper Eurotech Racing +1.578
- Mat Jackson Motorbase Performance +1.725
- Jake Hill RCIB Insurance racing +2.065
- James Cole Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +2.247
- Warren Scott Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +2.726
- Aron Smith BKR +2.900
- Alex Martin Dextra Racing with Team Parker +2.955
- Kelvin Fletcher Power Maxed Racing +3.130
- Tony Gilham TLB/RCIB Insurance Racing +3.984
- Daniel Welch Goodestone Racing +4.041
- Mark Howard BKR +5.050
- Jeff Smith Eurotech Racing +5.691
- Stewart Lines Maximum Motorsport +6.428