BMW Pirtek Racing will play a waiting game as they seek a strong result in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Rockingham on Sunday.

Driver Andrew Jordan qualified 18th in his WSR-run BMW 125i M Sport at the Northamptonshire circuit after a hard-fought session in which the top 27 cars were covered by less than a second.

The 2013 BTCC Champion had been 23rd fastest in opening practice on the 1.9-mile oval-cum-road course and then 19th in FP2, showing improvements as he gained experience of the rear-wheel-drive car.

The Lichfield racer, who lies seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, believes the BMW will be the car to have in race trim and can enable him to race his way into the top 10 in Sunday’s trio of races.

Andrew Jordan said: “To be only half a second from pole, I’m pretty surprised to be 18th on the grid, but that just shows how closely-contested the BTCC is nowadays. The BMW felt pretty good today, but we just missed the sweet spot with the set-up. We started off with a bit of understeer and we just went a bit too far in trying to dial it out, so we ended up with oversteer instead. We know we’re good on tyre-management. so the strategy will be to play a waiting game at the start, make sure we can keep the rubber alive and pick then off the places towards the end.”

Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “This is AJ’s first time racing a rear-wheel-drive touring car at Rockingham and it’s an incredibly tricky circuit to master. To be only half a second from pole isn’t at all bad, but the reality is that the BTCC is now so closely-fought that he’s 18th on the grid. We’re pretty positive about tomorrow though because the BMW is quite gentle on tyres and that should mean we’re in good shape in race trim.”