Brett Smith heads an incredible Honda top five
WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Brett Smith claimed a maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship pole position in the final qualifying session of the season at Brands Hatch.
Incredibly, Honda dominated the top five positions with the manufacturer-backed pairing of Dan Cammish and Matt Neal next up in the order. Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Cammish held P1 for much of the session with Smith seemingly set for second, but the latter produced the goods during their respective late runs and the duo traded places on the timesheets.
“I thought top five would be a great result here,” said Smith. “Top eight was our minimum and anything outside of the top ten would have been a poor one but the car was just ridiculous – I could do anything I wanted with it. I can’t fault the boys, I’m chuffed to bits – I’m having to pinch myself! We found that extra tenth-of-a-second and some. I had the confidence and through the first sector it was amazing. Around the final sector it was just spot on.”
Jack Goff confirmed WIX Racing with Eurotech’s pace by taking fourth, ahead of the BTC Norlin Racing Civic Type R of Daniel Lloyd.
The race for this year’s BTCC’s title proved to be a sidestory in this particular qualifying session with the ballast-laden BMW of standings leader Colin Turkington minimising the damage to his main rivals Tom Ingram and Tom Chilton. Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher’s Chilton was the best of the trio in 15th, with Turkington 17th and Speedworks Motorsport man Ingram down in 19th.
“That was important, staying ahead of Tom (Ingram) and getting the upper hand early in the weekend,” said Turkington. “We’ve been slowly improving the car and when we put it on the table for qualifying, I found a few tenths-of-a-second. When you see where I am on the grid it does look a long way back but when you factor in that the guys competing for the title are around me and Ricky (Collard) and Andy (Jordan) aren’t too far up the road, then it looks a lot better. I can sleep well tonight – tomorrow’s the day.”
Back towards the front of the field and Senna Proctor proved to be the first non-Honda in the classification with the Power Maxed Racing driver firing his Vauxhall Astra into sixth place, ahead of Sam Tordoff’s Motorbase-run Ford Focus.
Chris Smiley looked to have made it a Honda top six in the closing stages before his quickest lap-time was removed due to a track limits infringement, meaning the Northern Irishman had to settle for eighth at the finish.
Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat – celebrating his 22nd birthday this weekend – took ninth, and special mention must go to reigning champion Ash Sutton in tenth. The Adrian Flux Subaru Racing man endured a heavy accident in Free Practice 2 earlier this afternoon and his team had to produce a herculean effort to ready his Levorg in time for qualifying. Sutton was on-track within five minutes of the start and the 24-year-old performed admirably to take a top ten berth.
Rounds 28, 29 and 30 of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place around the hallowed 2.43-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit tomorrow with a huge crowd expected to descend on the legendary Kent venue. Many more will watch the action live on ITV4, which will start at 10:30 and run through until a BTCC champion is crowned tomorrow evening.
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Brands Hatch GP
1 Brett SMITH (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech 1m30.537s (96.75mph)
2 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.043
3 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.188s
4 Jack GOFF (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +0.236s
5 Dan LLOYD (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.238s
6 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +0.310s
7 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +0.349s
8 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.358s
9 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.378s
10 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.382s
11 Ricky COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +0.441s
12 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.462s
13 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.574s
14 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing +0.586s
15 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +0.588s
16 James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +0.603s
17 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.627s
18 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +0.632s
19 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.687s
20 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +0.765s
21 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +0.771s
22 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +0.812s
23 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +0.856s
24 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +0.927s
25 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +1.165s
26 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +1.218s
27 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +1.270s
28 Sam SMELT (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +1.523s
29 Ethan HAMMERTON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +1.718s
30 Ollie PIDGLEY (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +1.994s
31 Josh CAYGILL (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +2.757s