Team BMW are aiming to race through the field on Sunday after an ultra-tight Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship qualifying session at Thruxton.
Colin Turkington, who sits second in the Drivers’ Championship, qualified his BMW 125i M Sport ninth for tomorrow’s opening race on a day when the top 21 car were separated by one second.
The two-time BTCC title-winner had shown top-five pace in practice, giving notice of the WSR-run team’s excellent speed in race conditions, despite the Northern Irishman carrying 57kg of success ballast.
His team-mate Rob Collard, who is racing at his local circuit this weekend, qualified 18th with 39kg on board his BMW, but is equally optimistic of a trademark charge through the field on race day.
Team BMW lead the Teams’ Championship while BMW is first in the Manufacturers’ points table with two events completed.
Colin Turkington said: “To be only half a second off pole isn’t particularly bad in terms of the laptime, especially as Thruxton was always going to be a front-wheel-drive circuit in qualifying, and that we’re carrying 57kg of ballast. But I am a bit surprised that there are quite so many cars ahead of the BMW today. We can be confident of having a strong car in race conditions, because we always do, and when the weights change for the second and third races, you never know what can happen.”
Rob Collard said: “It’s been a tough qualifying session today and not what we were expecting. We were strong in practice this morning, but perhaps we were lulled into a false sense of security as the front-wheel-drive cars were able to make bigger gains than us as the track rubbered-in. On the plus side, we haven’t mastered qualifying at any circuit this year, but it hasn’t stopped us from being on the podium at every round so far, so there’s no reason not to go into tomorrow’s three races in a positive frame of mind.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “Just as at Donington Park, we knew today would be tough because the nature of Thruxton and the special construction of tyre we use here don’t lend themselves to rear-wheel-drive cars in a qualifying situation. You can see this in the results today. But the BMW is very gentle on its tyres in a race situation, and this has enabled our drivers to charge through to strong finishes here in the past. We’ll aim to do that again tomorrow.”