Ashley Sutton takes pole position at Croft
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Ashley Sutton secured pole position for Round 13 of the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after a dramatic qualifying session at Croft.
Sutton topped both Free Practice sessions earlier in the day at the North Yorkshire venue and the 23-year-old did it again in the all-important qualifying session.
The running was cut short after just nine minutes, however, when a multi-car accident brought about a red flag stoppage.
The Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo Ford Focus of Luke Davenport had seemingly dropped oil on the track after running on to the grass, which immediately led to a number of cars spinning off on the greasy surface. Heavy contact was made between several cars, most notably involving Davenport, Jeff Smith’s Honda and Aron Taylor-Smith’s MG. Others were able to scramble back to the pitlane with damaged machines but the aforementioned drivers required immediate medical attention.
After a lengthy stoppage all three drivers were safely extricated from their cars by the BTCC Medical Team and subsequently transferred to hospital.
Due to the extensive damage suffered to cars and barriers, however, officials decided that the session would not be restarted, meaning that qualifying positions would be set by the lap times already completed.
This left Team BMW’s Colin Turkington in second with Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo’s Mat Jackson in third – the latter getting his highest placed grid position of the season so far.
Reigning champion and standings leader Gordon Shedden was fourth ahead of the MGs of Josh Cook and Taylor-Smith. Due to the session stopping accident, however, Taylor-Smith, Davenport and Smith have subsequently been removed from the classified grid positions.
BTCC legends Jason Plato and Matt Neal were next on the timesheets, whilst Josh Price and James Cole ensured that all four Subaru Levorgs will start tomorrow’s opening race inside the top ten.
All three BTCC races will take place on Sunday with the action being screened live and exclusively on ITV4 from 11:30.
Ashley Sutton said: “Yes, we’re on pole but my thoughts go straight to those involved in the accident. I was one of the first into the accident and had to witness everyone else being collected. I think Andrew Jordan was the first to the scene and myself and Colin Turkington were second and third and we got away with it. The boys will be working all night on our car to get it ready for tomorrow but it’s all about those who were caught up in it. Hopefully everyone can get back out on track but it’s all about them and thoughts go out to them.”
Colin Turkington said: “That’s the fastest part of the circuit into Barcroft and it was very hard to see the oil on the track in the wet. You become a passenger. I got away with it just about and I’m pleased to be starting second. I got my lap in early and had a bit of fortune as well to get through unscathed. I just got through and no more – I don’t know how much was judgement and how much was luck. You’re keen to get something in the bank because the forecast was saying it could stop raining, when it would then become greasy and slow so you get a lap in. It’s one of those things. My strike rate here is really strong and it’s one of my best tracks so I’ll give it my best tomorrow and try and score highly.”
Mat Jackson said: “The first thing is making sure everyone’s okay and it’s never nice to see that. It’s never good whenever you get fluid down on track, and you can’t see it in the wet. It’s greasy through Barcroft anyway in the wet and if you’re off you’re a passenger. Hopefully everyone is okay. Third is great. We found a lot of time in the car. The pace we’ve shown is true pace and I think that we can carry that through tomorrow. From that side we’re happy but obviously we’ve got a lot of damage in the team and we hope that Luke (Davenport) is okay.”
2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Croft
1 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 1m33.182s (82.09 mph)
2 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.561s
3 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +0.604s
4 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.626s
5 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.722s
6 Aron TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.807s
7 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.829s
8 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.895s
9 Josh PRICE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.904s
10 James COLE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.002s
11 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +1.063s
12 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +1.111s
13 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +1.135s
14 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +1.197s
15 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +1.215s
16 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +1.688s
17 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +1.693s
18 Jake HILL (GBR) TAG Racing +1.771s
19 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +1.916s
20 Will BURNS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +1.928s
21 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +1.999s
22 Michael EPPS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +2.152s
23 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +2.332s
24 Dennis STRANDBERG (SWE) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +2.507s
25 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +2.693s
26 Ant WHORTON-EALES (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +2.796s
27 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +4.499s
28 Jack GOFF (GBR) Eurotech Racing NO TIME
29 Luke DAVENPORT (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo NO TIME
30 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing NO TIME
31 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing NO TIME
32 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing NO TIME