Gordon Shedden has qualified on pole position for tomorrow’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship round at the high speed Thruxton circuit in Hampshire.
Scotsman Shedden (pictured) set a best time of 1m17.004s to secure his second consecutive pole at Thruxton and also the third in a row this year for the Honda Racing Team. As a result, he will start at the front when the grid lines up for the first of tomorrow’s three races – being shown live on the ITV4 and ITV4 HD channels.
Rising star Andrew Jordan was second fastest in his Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra, just 0.062s behind. Third was Shedden’s team-mate Matt Neal, currently second in the standings, but championship leader James Nash could only manage the tenth fastest time in his 888 Racing with Collins Contractors Vectra that is carrying the maximum success ballast of 45kgs.
Fife racer Shedden, currently seventh in the standings, said: “I’m really pleased with that performance as I needed to give it everything considering how tight it is at the top. The high speeds here always make tyre wear a real concern over a race distance, but from the runs we did this morning in practice our tyres looked mint so I think we’re in good shape for tomorrow as well.”
Lichfield youngster Jordan, fourth in the table after his win at Donington Park a fortnight ago, commented: “I’m very happy with that. I’ve got a little bit of success ballast in my car, plus it was the first time we’d put a qualifying set-up on the car because we’d concentrated only on race performance in practice. After all it’s tomorrow when the points are scored and this has always been a happy hunting ground for the Vectra.”
Nash, meanwhile, knows he needs to make up places tomorrow if he’s to prevent the likes of Neal dislodging him from the championship lead. He added: “I made a mess of what would have been my best lap, but even if I’d made it count it might have only gained me a few places. On saying that, in race trim I think we’ll be quite a bit stronger than some of those starting in front of us.”
The top three qualified more than half a second clear of the rest of the field. Completing the top six were Tom Chilton’s Team Aon Ford Focus, reigning Champion Jason Plato’s Silverline Chevrolet Cruze, the highest placed of the normally aspirated runners, and Tom Onslow-Cole in his AmD Milltek Racing.com VW Golf – by far the car’s best qualifying performance to date.
Local stars Robert Collard and Nick Foster, both from Hook, qualified 14th and 17th fastest in their WSR BMWs but some are tipping their cars to come on strong as tomorrow’s three races progress.
All three races will be shown live tomorrow on the ITV4 and ITV4 HD television channels as well as www.itv.com during a seven-hour broadcast from 11.00am-6.00pm.
Leading BTCC qualifying times, Thruxton, Sat 30 Apr (provisional):
1. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic, 1m17.004s (110.14mph)
2. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Vauxhall Vectra, +0.062s
3. Matt Neal (GBR), Honda Racing Team/Honda Civic, +0.213s
4. Tom Chilton (GBR), Team Aon/Ford Focus, +0.756s
5. Jason Plato (GBR), Silverline Chevrolet/Chevrolet Cruze, +0.962s
6. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), AmD Milltek Racing.com/VW Golf, +1.118s
7. Jeff Smith (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Vauxhall Vectra, +1.245s
8. Mat Jackson (GBR), Airwaves Racing/Ford Focus, +1.321s
9. Tom Boardman (GBR), Special Tuning Racing/SEAT Leon, +1.323s
10. James Nash (GBR), 888 Racing with Collins Contractors/Vauxhall Vectra, +1.337s