Young MG star tops tight and tense BTCC qualifying
MG Racing RCIB Insurance driver Ashley Sutton secured the second pole position of his Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship career with a stunning lap at Silverstone.
The top 22 cars were separated by less than a second in an extremely tight and tense qualifying session, which saw a number of the title contenders struggling to find ultimate performance.
Sutton’s MG6 set the pace from the outset with the impressive young charger clocking his best time on only his fourth tour, with team-mate Josh Cook initially proving to be his closest challenger.
Tom Ingram was busy chasing his pole position hat-trick this season and the Speedworks Motorsport driver blasted his Toyota Avensis across the line mid-session, just 0.003s shy of Sutton’s benchmark.
A late stoppage due to an off track excursion for Mark Howard’s VW looked to have set up a five minute showdown, but track conditions were not at their optimum following the restart and no improvements were made at the top of the order.
Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek Racing Ford was fourth ahead of Adam Morgan’s WIX Racing Mercedes, with the latter having been in the top five during every session on the day. Jordan’s Motorbase Performance stablemate Mat Jackson could only manage 21st on the grid.
Rob Austin backed up his practice pace with another stellar effort in qualifying, bringing his Handy Motorsport Toyota home in sixth place.
Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal was the first of the main championship contenders in the order, as he hauled his ballast-laden Honda Civic Type R to seventh on the grid ahead of Power Maxed Racing’s Hunter Abbott. BKR’s Aron Smith and Honda’s Gordon Shedden completed the top ten.
A further quartet of top guns struggled during qualifying around the 1.64-mile national layout with the Silverline Subaru BMR Racing duo of Colin Turkington and Jason Plato down in 15th and 16th.
Team JCT600 with GardX endured a tough session with championship leader Sam Tordoff clocking the 17th fastest time while Rob Collard will start tomorrow’s opener from 25th. A coming together in qualifying summed up the pair’s Saturday with Tordoff being verbally warned for the incident.
Ashley Sutton said: “We came here with no expectations and we got pole! My first pole at the start of the year was fantastic but it came by surprise in the conditions. I suppose I have more pressure on me now and we really had to work for it. To have Josh (Cook) up there is great. A front row lockout would have been better but it’s good to have him there and hopefully we can link arms and work together. Our rivals went back out but most of them got caught in traffic after the red flag. We had another run in our pockets if we needed to go and do it. I’m feeling good for tomorrow and i’m optimistic we can do well in all conditions.”
Tom Ingram said: “That was super close. We believe that the 0.003s time difference is 13 centimetres on track. Rockingham wasn’t quite up to our standards so after some positive changes it looks like we’re back to where we were at the start of the year. I will try my best and there’s absolutely no reason why we can’t turn that into good results tomorrow. Qualifying is one thing though and racing is another, so we need to make sure we have a good Sunday.”
Josh Cook said: “I think I left a little bit on the table there. A few times I was up on my best but there was a lot of traffic in that five minute dash that cost us. Nobody was going to get out of the way for each other while they were battling to better their times. We had good race pace in practice and I am disappointed to miss out on the front row but I’ll take it and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Silverstone:
1 Ash SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance 58.321s (101.26 mph)
2 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.003s
3 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.146s
4 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.160s
5 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +0.216s
6 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +0.277s
7 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.350s
8 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.388s
9 Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +0.403s
10 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.459s
11 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +0.536s
12 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.555s
13 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.562s
14 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.639s
15 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.676s
16 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.686s
17 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +0.693s
18 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +0.719s
19 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.734s
20 Kelvin FLETCHER (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.759s
21 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.828s
22 Dan WELCH (GBR) Goodestone Racing +0.915s
23 James COLE (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +1.018s
24 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com +1.047s
25 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +1.059s
26 Stewart LINES (GBR) Maximum Motorsport +1.107s
27 Tony GILHAM (GBR) TLC/RCIB Insurance Racing +1.209s
28 Mark HOWARD (GBR) BKR +1.396s
29 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing +1.593s
30 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +2.294s
31 Michael EPPS (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +12.655s
Matt Simpson was officially reprimanded and received two penalty points for an incident involving Michael Epps in race three at Rockingham. As this was his sixth offence he will start race one at Silverstone from the back of the grid.
Sam Tordoff received a verbal warning for an incident involving Rob Collard in Saturday’s qualifying session.