Colin Turkington and Tom Oliphant incredibly set identical times as Team BMW enjoyed a strong performance in British Touring Car Championship qualifying on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.
On a sweltering and stuffy day at the Kent circuit, the duo qualified fifth and sixth on the grid with four-time champion Colin ahead because he had recorded his best lap 1m31.453-second lap had been set a few minutes before his team-mate matched it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen two of our cars set identical times in qualifying; it’s quite extraordinary,” commented Dick Bennetts, Team Principal. “The target for today was to have two cars in the top eight, so we’ve beaten that by a full row on the grid and I’m really happy about that.
“It’s no surprise to see front-wheel-drive cars filling the first four positions, but the BMWs are the two fastest rear-wheel-drive cars, which shows what a good job the team here at WSR have done.
“Weight always has a big effect here, so Colin would have suffered quite a bit in the uphill acceleration zones with 60kg onboard, and Tom too with 30kg. Tomorrow we need to have a clean first race, get whatever points we can, and then attack when the weight comes off.”
Carrying the maximum 60kg success ballast on his WSR-run BMW 330i M Sport, Colin was sixth quickest in opening practice and eighth later on as the team experimented with a series of set-up adjustments aimed at perfecting the car’s balance.
Come qualifying, his late flyer was a little over three tenths of a second away from the pole position time, giving the Northern Irishman plenty of confidence of extending his points lead on Sunday.
Team-mate Tom, who carries 30kg ballast into the weekend due to sitting sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, was the fastest Team BMW driver in FP2 in seventh spot, having been 14th in the morning.
A mid-session set-up adjustment in qualifying enabled the Leamington Spa-based racer to unleash the potential of the BMW; a sequence of impressive laps moving him up the order in the second half of the session before equalling Colin to the nearest thousandth of a second.
Sunday’s three races – which will be screened live on ITV4 – give Team BMW the chance to move ahead in the race for the Teams’ Championship, which they jointly lead, and could allow BMW to further increase their advantage in the Manufacturers’ standings.