Ash Sutton third as drama strikes Colin Turkington in BTCC title race
Eurotech Racing’s Jack Goff grabbed his third pole position of the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship whilst drama struck the title fight in qualifying at Brands Hatch.
Rain and red flags interrupted the early running as Brett Smith and Josh Cook were among those to go off in the greasy conditions, but it was all eyes on Team BMW’s Colin Turkington whose car failed to start in the pitlane.
An electrical problem struck Turkington’s BMW 125i M Sport, and would plague his machine for much of the session, although his West Surrey Racing team were able to make some use of the delay to rectify the issue whilst Cook’s stricken MG was retrieved from the gravel.
Fellow title contender and championship leader Ash Sutton suffered no such problems, as he clocked a sensational lap to go second in his ballast-laden Subaru Levorg following the restart. The young Adrian Flux Subaru Racing star would be relegated down to third late on after Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat rounded off his own impressive day with a stellar effort.
Moffat’s Mercedes had been a front-runner in an earlier practice session, and he produced the goods when it mattered to make the front row for the second time in his BTCC career. Sutton looked to respond on his final lap – setting the fastest first sector overall – but he eventually fell short.
Third still represents a huge success for Sutton as Turkington’s struggles continued until deep in the session. The multiple championship winning WSR squad did a great job to eventually get the Ulsterman out on track, but with little time to make significant inroads he could only set a time quick enough for 17th on the grid.
Back up front and Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin and Power Maxed Racing’s Tom Chilton performed well to line-up fourth and fifth respectively, ahead of triple BTCC champion Matt Neal.
Tom Ingram and Speedworks Motorsport are targeting both Independents’ titles this weekend and the Toyota star is nicely poised to fulfil those ambitions from seventh on the grid.
Local light Jake Hill hauled his TAG Racing VW CC around the 2.43-mile Grand Prix circuit to clinch eighth ahead of Adam Morgan’s Mercedes and Jason Plato’s Subaru.
So it is on to tomorrow’s season finale, with three thrilling BTCC races set to decide the destiny of Britain’s most coveted motor sport crown. Sutton holds a ten point lead over rival Turkington, as well as a 14-place advantage on the grid for the opener, but anything can happen in the BTCC.
A huge crowd is expected to attend the legendary Kent circuit with many more watching the live and exclusive action on ITV4, which will get underway at 10:30am.
Jack Goff said: “These boys at Eurotech Racing have given me three poles and Jeff (Smith) one – that’s more than anybody else on the grid and the Honda Civic Type R was fantastic. Being where we were in practice, we knew we had a quick car in the dry and when the rain came down, we thought our hard work was going to go to waste. We’re fully aware of a fast-starting rear-wheel drive Subaru around us but we’ll see what we can do. I’ve got nothing to lose. We’ve got the Independents’ to fight for but to go for that title, I need to go out and try and get the win here.”
Aiden Moffat said: “It’s a nice change to be up at the right end of the grid after the last few qualifying sessions! Some of that has been down to bad luck, some has been small issues and some has been the driver not performing! The car felt brilliant; the Mercedes is always amazing round here. I want to thank the Laser Tools boys and the Ciceley crew for giving me a great car as always at this event. I always feel confident coming to Brands GP and we managed to put the lap together.”
Ash Sutton said: “That couldn’t have gone any better for us, especially with the 14 place deficit to Colin (Turkington). The team were making me aware of that gap but they came over the radio though and said I needed four more tenths! You can never leave anything on the table and I was pushing. The start of the session was a complete write off with the weather and changing tyres over so with less than half a session to go at, it wasn’t a bad result. The car and Adrian Flux Subaru Racing have done me proud and I owe a lot to Jason who was towing me around. The 75kgs of success ballast hinder us and having that draft counteracts the ballast at least. It’s going to be a hunt for points. I know Colin’s more than capable of pushing up the order but I’ll be concentrating on my own race – I don’t need to do anything silly.”
Colin Turkington said: “Obviously it was a very difficult session for the whole team. Rob (Collard) unfortunately didn’t get out, and then we found a problem on my car on the very first lap which forced us back into the pits for a long time. Thankfully, the boys managed to resolve the problem, but it left me with very little opportunity to set a representative lap time. As usual, we improved the car throughout free practice and qualifying, but the most frustrating thing is there is so much more pace still sitting in it – we just needed a few more laps to release a bit more time. On the positive side, I’m 17th instead of 30th, so at least I’m halfway up the grid but it obviously isn’t where we should be. We just need to reset now. The points are handed out tomorrow, not today, so it’s better that this happens now and whilst it’s always tough to make progress through the field, this is far from over.”
2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Brands Hatch GP
1 Jack GOFF (GBR) Eurotech Racing 1m30.802s (96.47mph)
2 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.357s
3 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.363s
4 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +0.459s
5 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.481s
6 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.487s
7 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.502s
8 Jake HILL (GBR) TAG Racing +0.505s
9 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +0.530s
10 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.543s
11 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.612s
12 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +0.615s
13 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.653s
14 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +0.699s
15 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +0.699s
16 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.790s
17 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.796s
18 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.807s
19 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.834s
20 Michael EPPS (GBR) TAG Racing +0.871s
21 Aron TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.891s
22 Ant WHORTON-EALES (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +0.891s
23 James COLE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.901s
24 Josh PRICE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.209s
25 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +1.406s
26 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +1.429s
27 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +1.638s
28 Stewart LINES (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +2.979s
29 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance NO TIME
30 Brett SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing NO TIME