Pat Cranham, BTCC correspondent
Andrew Jordan has claimed only his second pole position of his career in his Pirtek Racing NGTC Honda Civic and will start round 7 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship from the front around the UK’s fastest circuit, Thruxton.
The 30 minute session took place in the dry after the two morning practice sessions took place in less favourable conditions. Both morning sessions were topped by the Honda Yuasa Racing Civic of Gordon Shedden with his team mate Matt Neal 2nd and 3rd respectively. However come qualifying the pair suffered a nightmare with Neal crashing out early exiting the first corner Allard while Shedden had looked on course to take pole until it was discovered that his Civic was running with more boost than permitted and as a result had his times disallowed, although he was able to rejoin late on; 18th was the best he could manage.
That was a proper pole position lap...
Never the less this didn’t matter to Jordan and afterwards he said, “That was a proper pole position lap – to do it around Thruxton which is an ‘old school’ circuit with no margin for error makes it extra satisfying. Even when I knew it was probably in the bag I still wanted to test the car and myself so pushed again and to get beneath the 1m17s mark here is a really big effort.”
Lining up alongside Jordan will be the lead MG KX Momentum driver Jason Plato. Plato was literally flying at the chicane pushing very hard but obviously too hard when he suffered a scary moment ending up in a ditch after going off at the country’s fastest corner, Church, bringing out the red flag meaning he had to sit out the remaining 10 minutes of the session. The former double champion was ok but admitted he was lucky and said, “I’m a lucky lad to still end up second but that could have been a very big accident. The car swapped ends on me as I went into Church Corner at about 140mph, but I managed to get it pointed in a straight line before it left the track. That helped and it was a fairly soft landing all things considered. A shame, though, because I was up on my best lap at that point”
Despite qualifying 2nd it wasn’t an enjoyable session for MG. This was because as well as Plato’s off, Andy Neate who ended up 16th in the sister MG 6 also had a big shunt exiting the rapid Goodwood-Village section of circuit also causing heavy damage meaning it will be a long night for Triple 8 racing the men behind the MG team.
Finishing a career equaling best in third was Frank Wrathall in his Dynojet prepared NGTC Toyota Avensis. Much had been expected of Wrathall heading into the year after his fantastic debut year but a late finish of the car and with no testing, Wrathall and his team have been on their back foot since. However Wrathall will surely hope this will kick start his season and said after qualifying, “I’m delighted and felt I could have gone even faster. I’m just going to enjoy the moment and not even think about tomorrow. Everyone’s talking about the weather but I couldn’t care less. We get what we get and then get on with it.”
Fourth was Mat Jackson in his Redstone Racing Ford Focus with Thruxton BTCC rookie Dave Newsham continuing to impress in his ES Racing finishing 5th. In 6th will be Rob Collard who takes part in his home event for eBay Motors meaning there will be 6 different makes and models of car in the top 6.
Next up was a trio of drivers all recording their best ever qualifying session with two Redstone Racing Fords of Aron Smith and Liam Griffin, sandwiching Lea Wood in his Binz Motorsport Vauxhall Vectra.
Rounding out the top 10 will be Tom Onslow-Cole in the second eBay Motors BMW who will have his team mate, Nick Foster, in the third BMW in behind him. Fresh from claiming his first ever podium last time out at Donington Tony Gilham will start 12th in his Team HARD Honda Civic. Ollie Jackson will start 13th in his flying AmD Tuning.com VW Golf with Adam Morgan for Speedworks, and Chris James in the second ES Racing Vectra rounding up the top 15.
After engine issues that prevented him from competing in the final two races at Donington, Rob Austin in his Audi A4 didn’t even get his engine back from his tuners, Lehmann, until an hour before the second Free Practice session with a problem receiving it after issues with the Euro star train. This meant Austin didn’t get on track until midway through qualifying but he ended it crashing heavily at the same point as Neate making it a miserable day for him.
Tony Hughes will start 20th behind the two Honda’s in the second Speedworks Toyota Avensis with two more drivers who suffered issues completing the grid. First was Jeff Smith after his car stopped on track in the second Pirtek Racing while Dan Welch in his Proto failed to take to the track in qualifying at all.
So that completes the grid for round 7. If the grid wasn’t interesting enough with the two factory Honda’s starting in 18th and 19th heavy rain is expected over night with rain continuing throughout the day. So far the series has already produced two stunning meetings and tomorrow is set to be another. So for full reports and images from tomorrow’s three races at Thruxton be sure to return to Motorsport.com.