Current Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship points leader Colin Turkington said afterwards that a front row start was better than he had expected to achieve, on a Rockingham weekend which rival squad Triple Eight held the trump cards on Saturday.
The 30-minute qualifying session at the Corby circuit this afternoon saw the MG duo of Sam Tordoff and Jason Plato set much of the day’s pace, Tordoff taking the advantage by almost half a second for his second pole in successive meetings.
Their party was spoiled somewhat by West Surrey Racing‘s Turkington in the closing minutes of qualifying however, the Northern Irishman slotting his BMW 125i alongside Tordoff for a front row spot ahead of fellow championship rival Plato, having held a top-five position for much of the session.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag afterwards, Turkington said: “It was a great lap and an important one.
“I got it right, and we found an extra couple of tenths in that last run which put me up to second, so I’m pleased to be starting on the front row.”
His ultimate best lap was still 0.484s slower than pole-sitter Tordoff, but Turkington admitted afterwards that splitting the MGs was a superb outcome to his day having struggled to find a balance that suited the BMW to the circuit he has not won a BTCC race around.
He added: “We don’t have the perfect balance around here and it’s not easy to try and tune the car back in, but we’re certainly making progress.
“[MG] were very strong here last year”, Turkington added on the threat the Triple Eight drivers pose, “so we were very aware about that. To be as close as we are to them is a good result I think.”
The former champion enters tomorrow’s trio of races holding a 23-point lead over Gordon Shedden with nine races to go, Shedden’s Honda Civic Tourer starting tomorrow’s race from the second row in fourth, alongside their other main title rival, Plato.
Asked whether a safety-first approach would be the wisest option considering the circumstances at a track more suited to MG, Turkington admitted point-scoring is more important, saying: “It is, because we think that this isn’t one of our strongest tracks.
“It’s just about really trying to get it to the finish, and we’ll hopefully be well up there three times tomorrow. I would grab two podiums at least now!”