BTCC: Turkington on pole at Brands Hatch

Colin Turkington took a surprise pole position in his West Surrey Racing MG ZS for race one ahead of the Vauxhall Astra Coupe pair of Michael Bentwood and James Thompson. This was the British driver's first pole position in this his third season in the BTCC. Bentwood's second place ensured that the front row was dominated by Independent entries.

James Thompson set the early pace on his first flying lap in his Vauxhall Astra Coupe, but after five pit stops and just six serious flying laps he was not able to improve on his time and ultimately finished third. Thompson's car had ground to a halt at the end of the previous free practice session with what appeared to be an engine fire but the team did not change the engine for this qualifying session.

Colin Turkington.
Photo by Mark Gledhill.
Turkington showed a sudden turn of pace in the closing laps of the session. He had set a 49.614s time early on in the session but then put in a series of slower laps and looked unable to improve. However he managed to pull out a 49.472s lap after a pit stop and he soon improved this by another 0.04s to hold on to his lead.

Bentwood moved up to second in the final few minutes with a succession of quick laps, the fastest of which was 49.562s, to move ahead of Thompson. The other Vauxhall Astra Coupe drivers qualified even further down the field with Yvan Muller in seventh place and Luke Hines in tenth.

A yellow flag at the very end of the session prevented anyone from improving their times after Richard Marsh lost control of his car at the entrance to Clark Curve, the long curve leading on to the pit straight, and slid slowly into the gravel trap.

Robert Huff was able to take part in the session after the Ray Mallock team repaired the broken left-front wheel on his SEAT Toledo that caused him to miss the whole of the second free practice session. He went on to qualify in an impressive fifth place and quarter of a second ahead of his team-mate Jason Plato.

<pre> Results: 1. Colin Turkington MG ZS 49.432s 2. Michael Bentwood Vauxhall Astra Coupe 49.562s 3. James Thompson Vauxhall Astra Coupe 49.583s 4. Matt Neal Honda Civic Type-R 49.621s 5. Robert Huff SEAT Toledo Cupra 49.651s 6. Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type-R 49.695s 7. Yvan Muller Vauxhall Astra Coupe 49.726s 8. Anthony Read MG ZS 49.753s 9. Carl Breeze Alfa Romeo 49.830s 10. Luke Hines Vauxhall Astra Coupe 49.851s