The 2012 British Touring Car champion stun the crowd with a final burst of power to earn the Donington pole.
Gordon Shedden has taken pole position at Donington in glorious sunshine for round 4 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Championship in his Honda Yuasa Racing Civic, after a late lap to get ahead of the Dynojet Toyota Avensis of Frank Wrathall.
The reigning BTCC champion was aided in qualifying by not carrying any success ballast following the opening meeting of the year at Brands Hatch, after he didn’t finish in the points in race 1 following a pit stop and got disqualified in race 2 for failing the ride height check. Despite a fine recovery drive in race 3 to take second, after his earlier results that meant he only left the Kent circuit 9th in the standings.
Shedden, who has not taken pole since 2011, now hopes to kick start his championship defence at Donington where he scored a double victory last year and said following qualifying, “with the tools at our disposal and with not carrying any ballast, then I think pole position had to be the aim. Wrathall was the surprise of the session so I plan to try and get my head down and keep out in front tomorrow. It’s my first pole position in the NGTC car and its been a long time coming, so I’m delighted.”
Despite being toppled by Shedden, Wrathall was able to keep second and admitted that he gave it everything during his lap and said, “The lap was pretty wild. It was on the edge but I managed to keep it altogether and squeeze every last bit out of the car. We didn’t really know what our true pace was, so it was nice to find ourselves so far up and be the mix.”
Heading the front of row 2 will be current Independent champion, and second in the current points standing, Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic. Despite carrying second maximum ballast following his double second place finishes at Brands Hatch three weeks ago, Jordan was left rueing a small mistake on his fastest lap which he felt could have left him higher and said, “We were hoping for pole and I messed up my fastest lap a little at the chicane. It was still a good result considering the weight we have on the car and we will look forward to fighting at the front tomorrow.”
Alongside Jordan on row 2 will be the second Honda Yuasa Racing Civic of Matt Neal, who will celebrate his 500th race in race 2 tomorrow, and he will start ahead of arch-rival Jason Plato in his MG KX Momentum MG 6 who carries maximum ballast into race 1 tomorrow, as he did during qualifying following his double victory at Brands Hatch. Like Neal, Plato will also celebrate a milestone of racing notching up his 400th series start.
Plato’s MG KX Momentum Racing team mate Sam Tordoff qualified in 7th with Adam Morgan continuing to show great speed in his Cicely Racing Toyota Avensis, as he hopes to build on his best finish last time out at Brands Hatch of 4th, in 6th place on the grid for tomorrow’s opening race.
Colin Turkington was the quickest of the three eBay Motors BMW 125i’s and the only one to make the top 10 with Dave Newsham 9th following a late lap to get inside the top 10 in his Speedworks Toyota Avensis. Jeff Smith, in the second Pirtek Racing Honda Civic, rounds off the top 10.
Just outside the top 10, but still only a fraction of a second off pole time, was Tom Onslow-Cole who put in a hugely encouraging display in his newly liveried Rockstar energy drink PPCGB/Kraftwerk Racing VW Passat, as prepared by Tony Gilham’s Team Hard squad.
Despite not turning a wheel prior to Free Practice 1 at Brands Hatch, Onslow-Cole was literally flying following a test midweek to out qualify several more fancied runners including the other two eBay Motors BMW’s and both Airwaves Racing Ford Focus’, who continued to struggle with Aron Smith, in one of the two Focus’, bringing out the red flag with just one minute remaining having gone off in the gravel exiting the final chicane and ending the session in 16th position.
Meanwhile in the Jack Sears trophy, for the older spec super 2000 cars, the leading driver was James Kaye in his AmD Tuning.com VW Golf finishing the session in 20th position overall.