Alex MacDowall took his maiden BTCC pole for Silverline Chevrolet at a wet Snetterton and in doing so made history by becoming the youngest pole winner in the history of the series. Alex MacDowall. Photo by Pat Cranham. The day had...
Alex MacDowall took his maiden BTCC pole for Silverline Chevrolet at a wet Snetterton and in doing so made history by becoming the youngest pole winner in the history of the series.
The day had started in sunshine and the opening Free Practice sessions took part in near perfect conditions, however as forecasted, the rain came at 4pm just five minutes before the touring cars were set to take to the track. Despite the rain this pole was no fluke as Chevrolet have returned to the second half of the season now looking like they have finally got the Cruze working how they would like and this was evident as team mate Jason Plato led both earlier Practice Sessions.
This time though it was MacDowall who got the better of his more experienced team mate but Plato was still able to make it an all Chevrolet front row coming home in 2nd.
A delighted MacDowall said after qualifying, "Being the youngest makes it extra special, to be part of BTCC history, but I'm already thinking about tomorrow. I don't mind what the weather throws at me tomorrow. I just want to make sure I stay in front at the first bend and then get on with it."
Plato was also pleased with 2nd particularly as title rival Matt Neal could only manage 7th. Plato was also quick to praise youngster MacDowall and said, "It's an opportunity of course but we're only just starting the second half of the season. The main thing at this stage is to stay in the game. Credit to young Alex though - he's done the business in tricky conditions. The lad's done well!"
Neal clearly hoped to be higher up the grid but admitted that the wet weather hadn't played into their advantage, "That's slightly disappointing but not a disaster and if it's fully wet tomorrow I don't mind. We didn't have chance to put the full wet set-up on our car today so I know we can be a lot faster in these conditions. Let's see what we get tomorrow."
Pole specialist Tom Chilton had to settle for third spot this time but there was drama for the other Team Aon Focus of Tom Onslow-Cole as he failed the ride height and had all his times disallowed.
Onslow-Cole was clearly very upset by the decision particularly under the circumstances as why the car failed as he explained, "I'd run into the back of Martin Johnson's car under braking out there and am sure that knocked the front-end down - the team got it back into position but I think the air pressure then pushed it back down again. I was very annoyed when it failed but there's nothing you can do. The rules are the rules.It's a test and I have to get through it tomorrow. There's only one game plan and that is to go as fast as I can but I have to be careful as well, particularly on the first lap. Then let's see how far I can get in race one and hopefully target some big results in races two and three."
Alongside Chilton will be Mat Jackson in his Airwaves BMW after he enjoyed a much happier time in qualifying after his recent poor showing during it. On the third row of the grid will be the two race winners from Croft. 5th Gordon Shedden took two victories at Croft, who qualified off the front row of the grid for only the second time this season in 5th.
Alongside him will be the winner of the third race of the day from Croft Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Vectra.
As already mentioned championship leader Neal will start 7th and Paul O'Neill will join him on the 4th row of the grid in his Sunshine.co.uk Honda Integra.
O'Neill has good memories of Snetterton taking one of his two victories here back in 2003. The Integra is clearly suited to the circuit after he took a fine third there last year as well as finishing third in the recent official test at the circuit.
James Nash will start 9th for Triple Eight racing but he surely would have been higher if it wasn't for the rain. Nash who won on the road at Snetterton last year before having it taken away from him was literally flying during Free Practice 2 finishing a fine 2nd.
Last year saw Fabrizio Giovanardi take a double victory at Snetterton and Nash was clearly also happy with his car leaping over the kerbs at the Esses completely in the air during the morning's Free Practice.
Alongside Nash in 10th will be Tom Boardman in his Special Tuning UK Seat Leon, who will start from his highest position so far this season fresh from his recent good display during the WTCC at Brands Hatch.
On the sixth row of the grid will be a pair of BMW's belonging to different teams. Steven Kane will start 11th in the second Airwaves BMW and he will start next to the first WSR BMW of Rob Collard, who will be disappointed after a good showing in the Practice Sessions.
Lea Wood put in another good display in his Central Racing Group Honda Integra to finish 13th and he will start ahead of Dave Pinkney in his NGTC Turbo powered Vauxhall Vectra and Andy Neate in the second WSR BMW.
John George will be next up in the second sunshine.co.uk Honda Integra with Shaun Hollamby next up in his AmD Miltek VW Golf which enjoyed a trouble free day. Behind him will be the pair of Forster Motorsport BMW's with Martin Depper again finishing ahead of Arthur Forster who had a massive spin exiting the Bomb Hole.
The final row of the grid will be the pair involved in the earlier accident with Martin Johnson failing to set a competitive time after the Onslow-Cole incident with the Ford man starting alongside him on the back of the field.
So that's how the grid will line up for round 16 of the Dunlop MSA Britiish Touring Car Championship as the second half of the season is about to kick off.
So will MacDowall turn his pole into victory? Will Plato catch and pass Neal in the lead of the championship?
For all the answers make sure you log back onto motorsport.com for all the full reviews and images.