Chilton makes history with Rockingham pole

Chilton makes history with Rockingham pole

Tom Chilton made history today at Rockingham Motor Speedway when he put his LPG-powered Ford Focus on pole position for round four of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the first time ever in the BTCC that an LPG-powered car as been...

Tom Chilton made history today at Rockingham Motor Speedway when he put his LPG-powered Ford Focus on pole position for round four of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, the first time ever in the BTCC that an LPG-powered car as been on pole.

Tom Chilton.
Photo by Pat Cranham.

Last year in Corby, England, the Focus came alive in the final race of the day at Rockingham to take a shock podium. Today the Focus was clearly the car to beat with Chilton also taking fastest time in the first free practice, with the LPG-powered Focus being the fastest car down the straight.

A delighted Chilton said afterwards, "I pieced the perfect lap together in my mind beforehand and reeled every corner, every gear change off as I'd planned it. It was a good job I did as I couldn't get near it again after that!"

Joining Chilton on the front row of the grid will be the Honda Racing Civic of Matt Neal. It was confirmed today that Neal was fined following his incident in Thruxton's race 3 with Rob Collard.

Star of qualifying was Alex MacDowall, who finished third in his Silverline Chevrolet Cruze in only his second ever BTCC meeting. He out-qualified his team mate Jason Plato who finished down in fifth, who admitted he is still to "find the sweet spot" in his Chevrolet Cruze. In between the two Chevrolet Cruzes will be the second Team Aon Focus of Tom Onslow-Cole, who ensured it was a good day all round for the Blue oval.

Next up, in sixth, was a very impressive James Nash who makes his debut for Triple 8 racing in an Avatar-sponsored Vauxhall Vectra. Nash has only had one day of testing at Silverstone this week in the Vectra; following his five meetings last year for RML in a Chevrolet Lacetti. Seventh will be the second Honda Racing Civic of Gordon Shedden; he qualified just ahead of Andrew Jordan, who qualified well in his NGTC turbo-powered Vectra.

In ninth will be the winner from the final race at Thruxton, Steven Kane, in the first of the BMWs. His Airwaves BMW team mate Mat Jackson will be just outside the top 10, in 11th, after he suffered a stone cracking the radiator in free practice 1, and then he suffered more misfortune in the second session with an oil leak.

Rounding out the top 10 will be Paul O'Neill, who started the day in fourth for the championship after his superb performance at Thruxton finishing 4th, 3rd and 6th.

After his misfortune at Thruxton with his incident with Neal, Rob Collard today qualified a disappointing 12th in the first of the WSR BMWs. Next up will be Dave Pinkney in another NGTC powered Vectra who lines up alongside Tom Boardman in his Special Tuning UK Seat Leon.

The second WSR BMW of Andy Neate lines up in 14th as he still gets to grips with the BTCC. Neate suffered a spin into the gravel during the session, which brought out the yellow flags and hampered many of the drivers trying to improve their time during the end of qualifying.

John George will line up 16th in the second sunshine.co.uk Honda Integra and will start just ahead of Martin Johnson, who will hope for a repeat or better from last year at Rockingham where he picked up 10th.

Arthur Forster will start in 18th in the sole remaining Forster Motorsport BMW after his team mate, Martin Depper, still remains stranded as previously reported following his holiday. Rockingham marks the debut for the multiple John Cooper challenge winners but they are still getting to grips with the ex Jackson BMW, which suffered yet more mechanical trouble in the first free practice session of the day.

The last row of the grid will be of Matt Hamilton and Shaun Hollamby in his AmD VW Golf. Both failed to record a time for different reasons. Hamilton had his time disallowed after failing ride height during qualifying. His day didn't get off to the best of starts either as he ran wide coming out of Gracelands. He crashed as the car, came back across the circuit causing damage to the front end and as a result only completed just free laps in the second free practice.

Hollamby failed to register a time during qualifying but did show signs of improvement in his brand-new VW Golf. He did set better times than Forster in both free practices and Johnson in the second session although he did have mechanical issues.

So that's how the grid lines up for the first of tomorrow's three races at Rockingham. Chilton has already made history by putting his LPG-powered Focus on pole, so be sure to return after the weekend's races to see if he can go one better and reach the top step of the podium.

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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Tom Chilton , Paul O'Neill , Arthur Forster , Jason Plato , Matt Neal , Steven Kane , Tom Boardman , John George , John Cooper , Tom Onslow-Cole , Gordon Shedden , Andrew Jordan , Martin Johnson , Dave Pinkney , James Nash , Mat Jackson , Andy Neate , Martin Depper , Shaun Hollamby , Alex MacDowall , Rob Collard