The pair of Team Aon Ford Focus drivers dominated qualifying and will start 1st and 2nd for round 18 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone. Tom Onslow-Cole finished ahead of Tom Chilton with both finishing well under...
The pair of Team Aon Ford Focus drivers dominated qualifying and will start 1st and 2nd for round 18 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone. Tom Onslow-Cole finished ahead of Tom Chilton with both finishing well under the 1-minute barrier and a whole half a second ahead of anyone else.
Such was the pairs advantage that the race organisers, straight after qualifying, fitted both Arena prepared vehicles with a further restrictor which will cut the car's turbo boost down. Team boss Mike Earle accepted the decision and said, "Tonight's regulation amendment will obviously severely hamper our two cars' progress. However, given the disparity between our qualifying performance today and the rest of the field and bearing in mind the fact that we are still on a learning curve with the Calor-powered car, I fully understand TOCA's viewpoint. We'll take it on the chin and continue to do the best job we can and, should these new restrictions impede our cars performance as severely as we believe they will, then hopefully TOCA will look at reversing some of their decisions."
Onslow-Cole who currently lies fourth in the title said after qualifying, "I'm really pleased with that one. We knew this would be a good circuit for us but maybe we're both a bit surprised by the margin. I need three strong results here to keep up the pressure in the title race and pole for race one gives me a great chance of achieving that."
Both Fords ran nose to tail for much of the session to get an extra slip stream down the straight and Chilton who sits back in seventh in the points standings said, "A really great result for the team in qualifying but I'm slightly gutted Tom got a bit of a tow off me which helped him. Then when I went out again for a final run at the end the circuit seemed to have lost a bit of grip so that was that."
The second row of the grid will be filled by the first of the normally aspirated cars both from Silverline Chevrolet. Once again though it was youngster rookie Alex MacDowall who got the better of his more experienced team mate Jason Plato. MacDowall will clearly be hoping for a better change of luck after his gear leaver came off on the run down to the first corner after taking pole position last time out at Snetterton. Plato who took a double victory at Snetterton to build up a 20 point championship lead said after taking 4th, "The Fords seem to be in a class of their own here so I'm looking to be best of the rest. Ideally I'll at least maintain the 20-point gap I've got on Matt as the last three circuits on the calendar will be better for his car."
Right behind Plato will be his main title rival Matt Neal. Neal benefited from extra work done by the Honda Racing's engine builder finding a few extra horsepower for this weekend. Neal's Honda Racing team mate Gordon Shedden didn't fair quite as well, qualifying down in 10th, his worst so far this season, but the Scot is the man in form taking three out of the last six victories and will be looking toward the third race of the day to pick up some valuable points.
Alongside Neal will be Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing NGTC turbo powered Vectra. Jordan might even be slightly disappointed with only 6th after finishing both earlier sessions 1st and 2nd.
Seventh will be fans favourite Paul O'Neill in his Techspeed Sunshine.co.uk Honda Integra. O'Neill started the season in fine fashion with two podiums and hopes that he can make a return there soon. Rob Collard who is still looking for his first victory of the season will start 8th in the first of the BMW's belonging to WSR, with James Nash next up in the sole Triple 8 Vectra hoping to make up after spinning out of the lead last time out at Snetterton.
Behind Shedden just outside the top 10 will be the first of the Airwaves BMWs belonging to Steven Kane. Both Airwaves BMWs failed to make the top 10 with Mat Jackson starting in 12th; both will have a lot of work to do tomorrow.
In between the two Airwaves BMWs will be Tom Boardman in his Special Tuning UK Seat. For the first time this season Boardman will have a team mate in the hands of Phil Glew who returns after impressing for Triple 8 on the opening day of the season. Glew, with heavy backing from Your Racing Car and WD-40, will run an NGTC powered engine unlike Boardman's normally aspirated. However Glew didn't have an enjoyable return after breaking a drive shaft before setting a time and will start last of the cars that took to the track.
Dave Pinkney in another NGTC powered car will start 14th in his Pinkney Motorsport Vectra just ahead of the second Techspeed Honda Integra of John George.
Andy Neate will be disappointed to start 16th in the second WSR BMW returning to the circuit where he almost lost his life almost two years ago to the day. Lea Wood will start in 17th but will be delighted just to make it to the grid after the team had major engine troubles following the last round with the car only being unable to tale to the circuit during Free Practice 1.
Arthur Forster will be in 18th but his team mate Martin Depper was forced to miss qualifying after a heavy shunt during Free Practice 2 crash at Copse the first corner. Much damage was caused during his crash but Depper was fine and remained confident that he would be out for tomorrow's races.
Shaun Hollamby was the slowest of the cars to set a time in his AmD Miltkek VW Golf but had to be towed back to the pits after stopping on track. Martin Johnson was not present today due to a family wedding so therefore will start last on the grid in his Boulevard Vauxhall Astra Coupe behind Glew and Depper.
So that's how the grid lines up for round 18 of the championship. Although Ford dominated today will the restrictor affect them? Will Plato extend his lead further or will Neal fight back? For all these answers and more be sure to log back onto Motorsport.com for all reaction after Sunday's 3 races.