A storming performance put Colin Turkington on pole position in the British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton as all three Team BMW cars impressively qualified in the top 10.
Making the most of the BTCC’s Top-10 Shoot-Out, which was used to determine the grid positions for the first time this year, Colin, Stephen Jelley and Tom Oliphant all showed blistering speed in their WSR-run BMW 330i M Sports at the Norfolk circuit.
“To get Colin on pole and have all three of our cars in the top 10 is very pleasing,” commented Team Principal, Dick Bennetts. “Actually, on speed, it’s three cars in the top five, though Tom’s best lap was taken away for exceeding track limits.
“We were looking for pole – as we always are – but when you consider Colin’s car is nearly 60kg heavier than the polesitter on a combination of success ballast and rear-wheel-drive penalty weight, it’s really a very strong performance. We’re very pleased with the speed and reliability of all three of our BMWs in very hot track conditions.
“There’s a lot to discuss tonight about raceday tactics because choosing when you use the option tyre could make or break your day.”
Northern Irishman Colin set the pace in the opening 25-minute section of qualifying with Tom and Stephen fifth and seventh; each securing progressing to the final 10-minute session that would decide pole position.
He then continued to show searing speed to set the second-quickest time in the Shoot-Out, which became pole position following a post-session change. It was Colin’s best qualifying result of the season so far and his second-straight pole at Snetterton.
Team-mate Stephen had been fifth quickest in morning practice and backed-up his early speed with an excellent seventh in first qualifying; the Leicester racer cleverly saving a set of new tyres for the Shoot-Out.
After setting a banker lap early on, he improved by two tenths of a second on his final lap of the session to take fourth – the best Snetterton qualifying result of his BTCC career.
Tom, who carries 15kg success ballast, was even faster than Stephen in the ‘regular’ 25-minute section of qualifying and easily progressed to the Shoot-Out.
The Leamington Spa-based racer continued to set a strong pace, but was unlucky to see a lap that would have put him sixth on the grid disallowed for exceeding track limits. He’ll start ninth.
Tomorrow’s triple-header raceday will be the first time in 2021 when the option tyre – which every driver must use once – will be used; creating a strategy dilemma for all.