Handy man sitting pretty ahead of race-day at Donington Park
Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin has taken pole position for Round 4 of the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after post-qualifying scrutineering resulted in the exclusion of Ashley Sutton.
Austin impressively backed up his earlier practice pace by clocking a 1m09.514s lap time, which would ultimately secure him top spot on the grid.
“After going quickest in FP1, we knew we had the pace,” said Austin. “That also meant I put myself under a lot of pressure in qualifying – and to be truthful, I made a mess of it for the majority of the session! Thankfully, we came good in the end.”
Sutton looked to have set a sensational lap record for Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, but his car’s turbo overboost was later adjudged to have contravened technical regulations and he will subsequently start tomorrow’s opening race from 31st on the grid. Fellow qualifying star Jake Hill will be a place further back, after the rear wing angle of his TAG Racing VW was outside of permitted tolerance, relegating him from sixth on the grid.
The amended result provided a welcome boost for a trio of young drivers with Jack Goff (Eurotech Racing), Tom Ingram (Speedworks Motorsport) and Aiden Moffat (Laser Tools Racing) now completing the top four positions. The three drivers had shown serious promise during the earlier sighter sessions, and they delivered again in qualifying.
Halfords Yuasa Racing will line up on the third row of the grid, with Matt Neal getting the better of his reigning champion team-mate Gordon Shedden. The Scotsman will be pleased with his lap, however, as the standings leader hauled his Honda Civic Type R around with maximum success ballast on-board.
Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing’s Michael Epps took seventh, which complements his trio of top ten finishes at Brands Hatch last time out, whilst Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan and Eurotech’s Jeff Smith were next up on the timesheets.
It was a mixed session for a number of the BTCC’s regular title protagonists, most notably Ulsterman Colin Turkington. The Team BMW driver set a time good enough for a respectable tenth on the grid, but his session ended early when a water leak struck his 125i M Sport. The episode brought about the only red flag period of the day as a number of cars spun off at the Old Hairpin, where Turkington’s BMW had dropped fluid all over the circuit.
Less than 1.2 seconds separated the entire field, suggesting we’re in for a thrilling and highly-competitive day’s racing tomorrow.
A huge crowd is expected to descend on Donington Park on Sunday, with many, many more watching the action live and exclusively on ITV4. The triple header of BTCC races are set to begin at 11:35, 14:35 and 17:20 respectively.
2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Donington Park
1 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport 1m09.514s (102.49mph)
2 Jack GOFF (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.041s
3 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.196s
4 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.214s
5 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.239s
6 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.289s
7 Michael EPPS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +0.305s
8 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +0.393s
9 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.419s
10 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.425s
11 Aron TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.443s
12 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.481s
13 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +0.484s
14 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.518s
15 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.528s
16 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.635s
17 Josh COOK (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +0.680s
18 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat with Duo +0.691s
19 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.697s
20 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.736s
21 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +0.776s
22 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.801s
23 James COLE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.881s
24 Will BURNS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +0.913s
25 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +0.978s
26 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +1.154s
27 Luke DAVENPORT (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +1.164s
28 Josh PRICE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.177s
29 Ant WHORTON-EALES (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +1.183s
30 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +1.194s
31 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing EXCL
32 Jake HILL (GBR) TAG Racing EXCL