Colin Turkington and Team BMW continued their push for the British Touring Car Championship by qualifying sixth in an ultra-close session at Silverstone.
The four-time champion and team-mates Stephen Jelley and Tom Oliphant all performed strongly to ensure that all three of the WSR-run BMW 330i M Sports will start tomorrow’s opening race from the front six rows.
“Given where we looked to be in FP1 – with Colin in particular – today’s been a good day,” commented Team Principal, Dick Bennetts. “In qualifying Colin and Stephen worked very well together with the towing and that definitely benefitted both drivers in getting into the pole-position shoot-out.
“Tom wasn’t able to benefit from a tow in the same way so didn’t quite make the shoot-out, but with three BMWs in the top 12 and the times so close around here we’re in a good position for the championship going into tomorrow. We’ll put all our energies into making sure we start raceday in as good a shape as we possibly can.”
For the second time in 2021, the BTCC’s ‘Top-10 shoot-out’ system was used to set the grid; the drivers with the 10 fastest times after the opening 25 minutes granted access to a special additional session to decide the polesitter.
Giving each other an all-important tow down the three long straights that dominate the National Circuit at Silverstone – thought to be worth around 0.3 seconds per lap – Colin and Stephen both made it into the final part of qualifying.
Colin, carrying 57kg success ballast by virtue of his third place in the Drivers’ points, did this by setting the second-quickest time of the opening 25 minutes while Stephen snuck in a flying lap as the chequered flag came out; making it by just 0.002 seconds!
With track conditions not quite as optimal in the shoot-out, neither driver could match their earlier time, but both continued to help each other throughout.
Colin’s best lap put him on the third row – just over 0.2 seconds away from pole position and best of the rear-wheel-drive brigade on the day, while Leicester racer Stephen was just over 0.1s further back as he qualified ninth.
Tom was the fastest BMW in FP2, setting the second-best time with a multi-car tow down the back straight. But he was unable to find a train of cars to slipstream when the track was at its most grippy midway through Q1.
Ultimately, he fell just 0.01s short of a position in the shoot-out, leaving him 12th on the grid, but with a strong chance of making progress across Saturday’s three races.