While all eyes were on the title contenders it was Tom Onslow-Cole who went on to take his first pole position of 2012 for eBay Motors around the legendary Brands Hatch GP circuit for round 28 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Onslow-Cole had topped the times but Andrew Jordan looked like he had secured pole position with a last gasp lap for Pirtek Racing, however with the chequered flag already out Onslow-Cole came through to re-take pole.
I’ve got my team to thank so much.
After qualifying a delighted Onslow-Cole was quick to praise his team and said, “I’ve got my team to thank so much. Firstly for the fix on the throttle cable this enabled me to get back out there. Then for the communication on that last lap – I didn’t realise how close it was with Jordan and all I could hear on my radio was my engineer screaming ‘keep pushing!’ Unbelievable…”
Despite missing out on pole Jordan was able to at least keep his front row position. Jordan has the slightest of chances of being crowned champion although he is currently 61 points off the lead with 67 available although he does hold a 28point lead in the Independent point’s trophy which will be his main priority.
Jordan had been quick all day and had earlier topped free practice 2 by a whopping 0.600 of a second and said following qualifying, “I knew Tom was close behind me and that he was the big threat so even when I’d crossed the line I delayed any celebrating just in case. Still, at least I held pole for a brief moment and I’m still on the front row of the grid.”
In third place and the first of the main trio in with a chance of the championship is Matt Neal for Honda Yuasa Racing. Neal heads into the weekend 31points off the lead due to a nightmare weekend last time out at Silverstone where he failed to score a point.
Reigning champion Neal who topped the first free practice session of the day held on a wet circuit following heavy overnight rain and will start alongside Rob Collard who is currently second in the Independent point’s trophy after a last lap put him 4th in a second eBay Motors BMW.
Lining up 5th will be former double champion Jason Plato. For Plato who has already secured 5 pole positions this season things didn’t end up quite the way Plato had planned as he reversed his MG KX Momentum Racing MG off at Paddock Hill bend as he tried one last lap.
This wasn’t the only mistake the MG driver made as an annoyed Plato said, “I’m slightly frustrated – I was two and half tenths of a second up on my best lap but ballsed it up at Clearways. At least I know the car is capable of going a bit quicker so it will be maximum attack tomorrow.”
Plato starts the day 15points from top spot but at least he can say he has qualified ahead of current points leader Gordon Shedden in the second Honda Yuasa Racing Civic who has qualified 7th.
Shedden tomorrow hopes to become the first Scottish driver since John Cleland in 1995 to take the drivers crown and said, “There was nothing left in the car – that was the most I could get from it with the extra success ballast on board. It makes it interesting for tomorrow, eh?”
Starting 6th will be the impressive Adam Morgan in the Speedworks Toyota Avensis as he hopes to end his maiden BTCC season on a high following a year of great speed but terrible luck.
Another star from qualifying was debutant Aaron Williamson making his debut for Tony Gilham’s Team HARD team in their S2000 Honda Civic.
After winning last time out at Silverstone Mat Jackson in the Redstone Racing NGTC Ford Focus will start 9th while Dave Newsham in his ES Racing S2000 Vauxhall Vectra rounds off the top 10.
Newsham had earlier had a scare by spinning at Surtees although he was able to continue but his ES Racing team mate wasn’t as lucky as Chris James spun at the same corner bringing out a red flag and ending up 22nd.
Other incidents included a smokey Frank Wrathall in his Dynojet prepared Toyota Avensis having to pit although he was able to re-join but will be disappointed with 14th, with Andy Neate in the second MG KX Momentum MG 6 also having a spin like team mate Plato although he was able to continue after spinning exiting Clearways but will be disappointed to be 21st.
This weekend will see Gilham driving the ex Thorney Motorsport NGTC Vauxhall Insignia for the first time under his Team HARD banner since acquiring the car. However he will start 22nd after failing to set a competitive time during qualifying which could have come as a result following a bizarre incident during Free Practice 2 when he was hit by a spinning Proton Persona of Dan Welch down the pit straight.
Both drivers had different views of the incident with Gilham saying, “I don’t know whether Dan lost it on a damp patch, but he spun into me and that sent me spinning into the pit wall. It wasn’t a hard hit but there’s no need for this… it’s a practice session.”
In response Welch said, “I don’t know where Tony thought I was going to fit on the circuit. He was warming up tyres and I ended up becoming pinned between his car and the pit wall which I bounced off and spun.”