BMR Racing’s Ashley Sutton stormed to pole position at a damp and drizzly Brands Hatch ahead of the first round of 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
The 30-minute qualifying session was stopped three times as drivers struggled on the greasy 1.2-mile Indy circuit.
Sutton will be joined on the front row by his former teammate Jason Plato in his Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra.
A trio of West Surrey Racing BMW 3 Series will line up behind the two former champions with Colin Turkington third, Andrew Jordan fourth and Tom Oliphant fifth – making it his best ever qualifying result in the BTCC.
The two Halford Yuasa Racing Honda Civics’ of Matt Neal and Dan Cammish will line up sixth and seventh respectively with Tom Ingram bringing home the eighth fastest time in his new Toyota Corolla.
Sam Tordoff will line up ninth with BTC Norlin’s Josh Cook rounding out the top-10.
Tordoff may have been hoping for more having topped the time sheets at the official season launch around the Kent track last week, but he fell victim to the slippery conditions and went straight into the gravel at Druids.
Mark Blundell done similar in his first ever BTCC qualifying session and will line up 28th whilst Motorbase Performance’s Ollie Jackson had an off earlier on in the session and will line up 27th.
Stephen Jelley was showing a good turn of speed and should be starting eighth, but he was disqualified after his BMW 125i M Sport failed ride height checks after the session and will line up 30th.
Sutton told the BTCC website: “We weren’t expecting that. I’m 100 percent sure that if it was dry, we wouldn’t be in the same position. It fell into our hands and fingers crossed it’s wet tomorrow. Twice we actually purpled sector one when a red flag came out and spoilt things. There’s a few things to work on and I’m going to have my old teammate pushing me along, aren’t I?”
Plato said: “It’s alright isn’t it. We’ve steadily made progress. We’ve got areas where we know we can improve – it’s the first time we’ve done running with wets on the car. It’s great to be with a team which I trust and that can put a competitive car on the grid for me.”
Turkington said: “They were really tricky conditions for the first qualifying session and our first experience of the new 330i M Sport in the wet. For our car the new Dunlop wet compound comes in a bit quicker and you can lean on it earlier. It’s a massive achievement and I can’t emphasise how much effort’s gone into this from the team. We’ve a fast car in the dry and wet. We’re happy tonight but we know we’ve got work to do.”
All the action kicks-off tomorrow with the first race taking place at 11:30, live on ITV4.
Header image from BTCC.net
By Jordan Hollands.