Team BMW‘s Dick Bennetts says that the rear-wheel drive cars have had to avoid extensive use of Donington Park’s kerbs ahead of the second Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting of the season.
Saturday’s qualifying session at Donington was closely-contested, the top 25 cars covered by less than a second as Rob Austin grabbed pole position following the exclusion of Team BMR‘s Ashley Sutton.
Colin Turkington had topped the initial phase of the session but a water coolant spillage in the final 10 minutes limited his progress to 10th on the grid. West Surrey Racing BMW team-mates Rob Collard and Andrew Jordan will start 13th and 14th respectively.
Team Principal Bennetts said that the team played it carefully compared to their FWD rivals when attacking Donington’s kerbs, hindering their pace in a tight session.
“It hasn’t been the easiest of qualifying sessions, but to have 23 cars within a second is very unusual and we’re looking forwards for tomorrow”, he said.
“While we’ve qualified as the best of the rear-wheel-drive cars, we feel we’re at a disadvantage here because we can’t and won’t abuse the kerbs in the way that front-wheel-drive cars can and have been.”
Fresh from his first WSR victory at Brands Hatch, Jordan sits third in the championship and said that he has consistency firmly on his mind.
He said “I’m pretty happy with my qualifying time, especially with 57kg of success ballast on board, but I’m quite surprised that time has left me in 14th today. I’m playing the long game this year.”
Collard meanwhile sits fifth in the standings, but was confident that the BMW squad could improve in Sunday’s trio of races.
“If you’d told me yesterday that I’d qualify in the time I set, I’d have been happy”, said Collard. “With 39kg of ballast, it’s about the limit of what was possible today. I’m surprised to be 13th, but when you consider that only three of the top-10 cars in qualifying have any ballast, you realise just how mixed-up the grid can be for a BTCC event.
“In race conditions, I’m confident we’ll have one of the best cars out there.”
Photo: BTCC Media