Andrew Jordan has taken pole position for the first of tomorrow’s three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Hampshire’s high-speed Thruxton circuit, but there were major problems in this afternoon’s qualifying session for three of the series’ big names, Gordon Shedden, Jason Plato and Matt Neal.
Staffordshire’s Jordan, driving a Pirtek Racing Honda Civic, set the pole position time in 1m16.983s – a dizzying average speed of 110.17mph. It is the second pole of the 22-year-old’s career.
Oxford’s Plato, the current championship leader, ended up second overall but had to rely on the time he set earlier in the session as he then crashed at high speed in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6. Preston racer Frank Wrathall, another of the championship’s rising young stars, was a career equal-best third fastest on a damp but rapidly drying track in his Dynojet team’s Toyota Avensis.
Jordan, from Lichfield, commented: “That was a real man’s pole position lap – to do it around Thruxton which is an ‘old school’ style circuit with no margin for error makes it extra satisfying. Even more so as we beat the 1m17s barrier which hardly ever happens.”
Plato added: “The car swapped ends on me as I went into Church Corner at about 140mph, but I managed to get it pointed in a straight line before it left the track. That helped and it was a fairly soft landing all things considered. A shame, though, because I was up on my best lap at that point…”
And said 25-year-old Wrathall: “I’m delighted and felt I could have gone even faster. I’m just going to enjoy the moment and not even think about tomorrow. Everyone’s talking about the weather but I couldn’t care less. We get what we get and then get on with it.”
Meanwhile Mat Jackson (Redstone Racing Ford Focus), Dave Newsham (Team ES Racing.com Vauxhall Vectra) and local Hampshire ace Robert Collard (eBay Motors BMW) were next up to make it six different cars in the top six positions.
But having looked supreme in morning practice, it all went wrong for the factory Honda Yuasa Racing Team team-mates Neal and Shedden in qualifying. Neal finished up a lowly 19th after a crash and Shedden, on course for his first pole of 2012 having set the fastest lap, then had all his times disallowed mid-session when it was discovered his car had exceeded the permitted turbo boost limits. He rejoined the session for one final flying lap but a costly error meant he could do no better than 18th.
Tomorrow’s three BTCC races at Thruxton will be shown on ITV4, ITV4 HD and www.itv.com as part of its mammoth live broadcast of the event (11.00am-6.00pm).
Leading Qualifying Times, Dunlop BTCC, Thruxton, Saturday 28 April
1. Andrew Jordan (GBR), Pirtek Racing/Honda Civic, 1m16.983s
2. Jason Plato (GBR), MG KX Momentum Racing/MG6, +0.824s
3. Frank Wrathall (GBR), Dynojet/Toyota Avensis, +1.019s
4. Mat Jackson (GBR), Redstone Racing/Ford Focus ST, +1.468s
5. Dave Newsham (GBR), Team ES Racing.com/Vauxhall Vectra, +1.595s
6. Robert Collard (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +1.643s
7. Aron Smith (IRL), Redstone Racing/Ford Focus ST, +1.888s
8. Lea Wood (GBR), BINZ Racing/Vauxhall Vectra, +2.066s
9. Liam Griffin (GBR), Redstone Racing/Ford Focus ST, +2.168s
10. Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR), eBay Motors/BMW 320si, +2.244s