Croft BTCC: Moffat sweeps to first pole, denying Hill

Aiden Moffat grabbed the first British Touring Car Championship pole position of his career at the culmination of a dramatic qualifying session at Croft.

The Scot put all his sectors together with just over two minutes remaining to dislodge four-time champion Colin Turkington, who had looked set to extend his remarkable record at the North Yorkshire circuit.

Moffat, at the wheel of a Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50, had never previously qualified higher than second in a BTCC career dating back eight years, but did enough to edge out Jake Hill by 0.040 seconds as Turkington slipped to third.

“It’s taken some waiting, hasn’t it?” said Moffat.

“It’s a special moment. We’ve had good pace this season and I can’t thank everyone enough, including Ash [Sutton, teammate] – he’s given me a lot of help.

“It’s easy to chase the car a lot, but today I felt confident with the car they gave me, working on myself, not overdriving. I should have tried that six years ago!”

Hill, his Motorbase-run MB Motorsport Ford Focus laden with 48kg of success ballast, was “gutted” to miss out yet again on his own maiden BTCC pole, but “over the moon” to qualify on the front row with the weight.

Turkington too was happy, his West Surrey Racing-run BMW 330i M Sport on 39kg of ballast.

The Northern Irishman didn’t run new tyres in free practice, hence his lowly standing there, but bounced forward in qualifying. Minor changes before his final run brought only a 0.007s improvement, meaning he dropped from pole to third.

Like Hill, Turkington and 10th-placed Jason Plato's Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra, free practice pacesetter Senna Proctor was another to set a theoretical best better than Moffat’s.

Proctor, at the wheel of a BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R, languished in 20th place at the second of two red flags, but he burst to the fore in the final 10 minutes of running to bag a place on the second row in fourth place.

Adam Morgan, with 33kg of ballast on his Ciceley Motorsport BMW, was another to move from free practice anonymity into the qualifying limelight by taking fifth place, and will share the third row with the second of the WSR BMWs, driven by Tom Oliphant.

The second BTC Honda of Josh Cook has looked good all day with 57kg of ballast, and he posted the seventh fastest time, within 0.06s of third-placed Turkington.

Lining up alongside Cook will be championship leader Sutton, with the maximum 75kg weight on his LTR Infiniti.

Dan Rowbottom headed to the pits mid-session with smoke issuing from the rear of his Team Dynamics Honda. He emerged with the smoke still there, but improved to ninth, on 21kg of ballast.

With the exception of Moffat, it was a disastrous qualifying session for the BTCC's Scottish contingent. Gordon Shedden suffered a spin on his way to 17th in his Dynamics Honda, while Rory Butcher, who looked a surefire pole contender, pulled off at the exit of Sunny early on with engine failure on his Speedworks Motorsport-run Toyota Corolla.

Butcher's problem caused the first red flag and means he will start from the back of the grid.

The other red flag was caused when Nic Hamilton shunted his Team Hard Cupra on the approach to Sunny.

Title contender Tom Ingram struggled with heavy ballast (66kg) even more than usual in his Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai i30 N, and will line up 21st.

Croft BTCC Qualifying Results

Cla Driver Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Aiden Moffat 1'22.037  
2 United Kingdom Jake Hill 1'22.077 0.040
3 United Kingdom Colin Turkington 1'22.159 0.122
4 United Kingdom Senna Proctor 1'22.169 0.132
5 United Kingdom Adam Morgan 1'22.186 0.149
6 United Kingdom Tom Oliphant 1'22.190 0.153
7 United Kingdom Josh Cook 1'22.214 0.177
8 United Kingdom Ashley Sutton 1'22.297 0.260
9 United Kingdom Daniel Rowbottom 1'22.330 0.293
10 United Kingdom Jason Plato 1'22.413 0.376
11 United Kingdom Ollie Jackson 1'22.438 0.401
12 United Kingdom Stephen Jelley 1'22.502 0.465
13 United Kingdom Chris Smiley 1'22.543 0.506
14 United Kingdom Daniel Lloyd 1'22.545 0.508
15 United Kingdom Tom Chilton 1'22.573 0.536
16 United Kingdom Jack Goff 1'22.603 0.566
17 United Kingdom Gordon Shedden 1'22.629 0.592
18 United Kingdom Sam Smelt 1'22.655 0.618
19 Sam Osborne 1'22.673 0.636
20 United Kingdom Carl Boardley 1'22.734 0.697
21 United Kingdom Tom Ingram 1'22.846 0.809
22 Ireland Aron Taylor-Smith 1'22.994 0.957
23 Jade Edwards 1'23.219 1.182
24 United Kingdom Jack Mitchell Jr. 1'23.276 1.239
25 Jack Butel 1'23.319 1.282
26 Andy Neate 1'23.950 1.913
27 Nick Halstead 1'24.993 2.956
28 Nicolas Hamilton 1'27.260 5.223
29 United Kingdom Rory Butcher    
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