BTCC: Arkas Racing Donington qualifying notes

KIZILIRMAK STUNS DONINGTON WITH CAREER-BEST BTCC QUALIFIER Arkas Racing's Erkut Kizilirmak produced easily the best qualifying performance of his short Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship career at Donington Park National Circuit this ...

KIZILIRMAK STUNS DONINGTON WITH CAREER-BEST BTCC QUALIFIER

Arkas Racing's Erkut Kizilirmak produced easily the best qualifying performance of his short Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship career at Donington Park National Circuit this afternoon, the 37-year-old Turkish star lining up for the first of tomorrow's three races an outstanding 12th on the grid.

Having had no running at Donington this year prior to today, and with his only previous experience of the circuit coming by way of a standard track-day, the Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch driver's tremendous pace in this afternoon's 30-minute qualifying session saw him achieve a time within one second of the pole position lap.

Erkut's best effort, a lap of 1m 14.485 seconds (94.59 seconds), was good enough for a career-best 13th position on the timesheets but with Tom Chilton's VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra failing a weight-check part way through the session, this promoted the Istanbul racer another place into the top 12.

Halfway through qualifying, Erkut had put his Tech-Speed Motorsport-run Astra inside the top 14 with a lap of 1m 14.864 seconds but after a short cessation in proceedings due to an on-track incident, he then found an extra four 10ths of a second to cement his place as the second fastest of the BTC-specification cars.

Notably, Erkut was also the quickest driver through the start/finish line speed-trap and will begin Sunday morning's 16th round of the 2007 campaign on row six ahead of seven S2000-specification cars, a truly superb performance.

Speaking after qualifying Erkut said: "I'm very pleased, how can I not be? The team has done a perfect job and the car is working perfectly. The lack of experience for me is what has been missing. Even though I have only ever done a track-day at this circuit it seems that experience has been enough to make the difference.

"I enjoy Donington very much, I really like the circuit and not only did we do a good lap time but we were fastest through the speed trap. Today also shows everything is starting to come together, race by race, weekend by weekend and day by day I am improving and it's really good."

Today's result also comes as a deserved fillip for the hard-working Tech-Speed squad which, from its base in Leamington-Spa, produces a great car for Erkut each and every race weekend. The Turkish racer, however, still felt there could have been an even better outcome had he not made a mistake at Goddards Chicane on his quickest lap.

"Even though I am happy with my time it doesn't satisfy me as I know I made a mistake at the last chicane which cost me three 10ths of a second. I have some mixed feelings, I am very happy with the result but I know it can be even better. To be a second off pole position is great and I hope this will continue and we have good, clean races tomorrow."

Round 16 of the BTCC season will take place at 10.00 tomorrow morning, Sunday, 15th July, with round 17 following at 12.45 and round 18 -- which will be broadcast live on the UK's leading commercial channel ITV1 -- scheduled to begin at 14.50. Digital satellite and cable broadcaster Setanta Sports 1 will screen the entirety of the day's racing live.

-credit: ar

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