Shedden scores first Honda pole in three years
Gordon Shedden has secured the first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship pole position for Halfords Yuasa Racing in more than three years.
The reigning champion produced an incredible effort midway through the session at Snetterton – smashing the qualifying lap record in the process – but the pack immediately set about attacking the Scotsman’s benchmark.
Colin Turkington’s Subaru Levorg fell short by just 0.015s and then Adam Morgan’s Mercedes blasted into third, only a further 0.013s in arrears. It’s worth noting that the Snetterton 300 circuit is the longest on the BTCC calendar, making the closeness of the top three fight even more incredible.
It was a nervy final few minutes for Shedden but he held on until the chequered flag, bringing home Honda’s first qualifying top spot since Donington Park back in 2013.
“Pole position! I didn’t expect it but I’m delighted,” said Shedden. “I can think of worse places to start. It’s only one point for today though and we desperately need a big points haul tomorrow.
“It’s been a bit random today. We hardly passed go and collected 200 quid in practice but we got everything together for qualifying. We didn’t have time to change things around much but maybe out of the box is the best way. It was a really really good lap and it all came together – it was absolutely fantastic.”
The tussle for the next three places was also hugely competitive – albeit more than three tenths back from the lead trio – as Tom Ingram fended off Mat Jackson and the very impressive Hunter Abbott. Power Maxed Racing’s Abbott had earlier targeted the top ten in qualifying, having made significant progress in the front-wheel drive Chevrolet in recent rounds, but a best ever grid slot of sixth will have been a pleasant surprise for the Maidenhead racer.
Aron Smith shot back into contention today after relatively low key weekends at both Oulton Park and Croft, the Irishman taking seventh for BKR Racing here in Norfolk. Ashely Sutton was the best placed MG in eighth, followed by Matt Neal’s Honda Civic Type R and championship leader Sam Tordoff.
Tordoff’s closest challenger in the title race – West Surrey Racing team-mate Rob Collard – could only manage 18th after a difficult time in the sister BMW 125i M Sport.
“We lost all balance in the car,” he said. “We changed things significantly for qualifying and it didn’t work out, so I’m absolutely devastated at the moment. The mechanical part of the car is fine and between me and the engineer we decided to go this way with the car and it didn’t work. I’ll have him in a headlock later on!”
Others endured challenging moments with both Martin Depper and Mark Howard experiencing off-track excursions, as did Warren Scott, although he was delighted to see all four Silverline Subaru BMR Racing machines take top 15 places. Andrew Jordan suffered heartache and failed to even join the action after a power steering problem plagued his Pirtek Racing Ford Focus.
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Snetterton:
1 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1m55.627s (92.43 mph)
2 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.015s
3 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +0.028s
4 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.382s
5 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.405s
6 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.438s
7 Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +0.554s
8 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.579s
9 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.595s
10 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +0.608s
11 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.654s
12 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.767s
13 James COLE (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.980s
14 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.988s
15 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +1.004s
16 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +1.061s
17 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +1.071s
18 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +1.125s
19 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +1.176s
20 Michael EPPS (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +1.290s
21 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com+1.293s
22 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +1.429s
23 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +1.747s
24 Dan Welch (GBR) Goodestone Racing +1.904s
25 Michael CAINE (GBR) TLC/RCIB Insurance Racing +1.983s
26 Kelvin FLETCHER (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +2.167s
27 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +2.223s
28 Mark HOWARD (GBR) BKR +2.571s
29 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing +2.975s
30 Stewart LINES (GBR) Maximum Motorsport +4.173s
31 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance NO TIME