Team BMW are targeting a strong points haul at the second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship event of 2017 after an action-packed qualifying session at Donington Park.
Drivers Colin Turkington and Rob Collard qualified 10th and 13th in an enthralling session in which the top 23 cars were separated by less than one second on the timesheets.
Two-time BTCC Champion Colin, who carries 27kg of success ballast into the weekend, had run strongly in morning practice, setting the fifth-fastest time in his BMW 125i M Sport, which is run by reigning Teams’ and Constructors’ Champions WSR.
But a water leak with six minutes remaining of qualifying prevented the Northern Irishman from returning to the track and left him on the sixth row of the Race-One grid.
Team-mate Rob Collard, with 39kg of ballast, set a near-identical time and will start 13th. The Hampshire racer was satisfied with his time and will use the memories of his 2016 Donington victory to spur on his challenge.
Colin Turkington said: “The BMW has run well today and I’m sure I could have been inside the top-10 if I’d been running at the end. Unfortunately, I had a water leak towards the end of the session, which ended our running. From 10th, we certainly have our work cut out to score big points, but the combination of WSR and BMW is very strong and if anyone can do it, we can.”
Rob Collard said: “If you’d told me yesterday that I’d qualify in the time I set, I’d have been happy, because with 39kg of ballast, it’s about the limit of what was possible today. I’m surprised to be 13th, but when you consider that only three of the top-10 cars in qualifying have any ballast, you realise just how mixed-up the grid can be for a BTCC event. In race conditions, I’m confident we’ll have one of the best cars out there.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “It hasn’t been the easiest of qualifying sessions, but to have 23 cars within a second is very unusual and we’re looking forwards for tomorrow. While we’ve qualified as the best of the rear-wheel-drive cars, we feel we’re at a disadvantage here because can’t and won’t abuse the kerbs in the way that front-wheel-drive cars can and have been.”