The two turbo gas powered Ford Focus' dominated the qualifying session to take a one two start for the first race tomorrow.
It was Tom Onslow-Cole who set the quickest time to grab pole from team mate Tom Chilton.
Onslow-Cole quickly put the disappointment of losing his qualifying times at Snetterton behind him in fine style and the both he and Chilton were the only two drivers to break the one minute barrier with times of 59.659 and 59.881 seconds respectively. The cars ran superbly well as they set times a second quicker than those from practice as the rest of the field struggled to keep up.
This has prompted TOCA to take action and restrict the performance of the two Team AONvehicles again before the race tomorrow.
The Boost pressure on the Fords will be reduced from 0.8 to 0.7 bar and the size of the engines inlet restrictors will be reduced from 36mm to 35mm. TOCA released a statement entitled: 'Alternative Fuelled Cars Technical Regulations Amendment’ which read: In accordance with CR 5.3, the Administrator has mandated that any cars running to those regulations are now required to run at a maximum boost pressure of 0.7 bar (1.7 bar absolute) and fit a 35mm turbo inlet restrictor with effect from, and including, round 19 of the 2010 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Alex MacDowell was the best of the rest taking third place in the RML Chevolet Cruze with a 1:00.345 just ahead of team mate and championship leader Jason Plato in fourth.
MacDowell was pleased with his performance as he told The Checkered Flag, “We've done the best we could have done in terms of the non-turbo cars, but there was no way we were going to beat the fords.” A feeling that seems to be mutual in the pit lane.
He continued “With Jason [Plato] just behind me, hopefully he will be able to hold the pack up a bit. He has 45kg success ballast and it was difficult to help tow each other round in the slipstream as I kept pulling away from him. We have a much better car and we did what we could so we will see how it goes tomorrow.” When asked about his hopes for the race tomorrow, he replied “Hopefully a podium. The Fords don't look after their tyres so well so hopefully towards the end of the race we will have a chance.”
Championship contender Matt Neal will line up fifth on the grid tomorrow but team mate Gordon Shedden in the second Honda Civic suffered worse fortune and set the tenth fastest time which he was extremely disappointed with and was left wondering why his car wasn't quicker.
Having set fastest time in the second free practice Andy Jordan will probably have been hoping for a better grid place than the sixth he achieved but it was still a respectable position for the Pirtek Vauxhall Vectra which runs the new generation engine which was the last of the cars to be within a second of pole man Onslow-Cole.
Just behind Jordan will be the first of the Honda Integra's with Paul O'Neill behind the wheel. A good result for the ageing car and O'Neill will be looking to improve throughout the race and try and get a good points haul.
The Quickest BMW was that of Rob Collard in eighth who set a time just one thousandth of a second behind O'Neil. Behind Collard was the second Vauxhall Vectra of James Nash in ninth.
Matt Jackson suffered the same fate as Onslow-Cole did in the last round as he was stripped of his times for failing a ride height check. But there was enough time for him to head out and set thirteenth fastest time just behind Tom Boardman and ahead of David Pinkney.
Disaster struck for the new Special Tuning SEAT Leon of Phil Glew backed by YouRacingCar.com in their first outing in the BTCC as a broken driveshaft on his out lap meant the end of his qualifying session with no time set as the team battled in vain to fix it in time for a few laps before the session end.
TCF caught up with Phil Glew and he told us of the problem. “Unfortunately the drive shaft popped out on the first lap out, so we have to look at the problem and make sure we fix it. We have some new shafts and new boots so hopefully it will run a lot better tomorrow.” He continued by saying, “It's just a bit unfortunate because we are still shaking the car down and bedding it in. We are trying to get it set up and it's hard to when you can't even do qualifying so we will have to work hard tomorrow.” Asked if he was happy with the car in the free practices Glew said “Yeah, it wasn't too bad. Obviously we didn't quite have the pace but that's purely because we're still sorting out fiddly little problems with the car. At the end of the day, this car has never run before. It's just taking a little time to get everything right and obviously the worse time for anything to go wrong is qualifying and it did.”
Asked if he had now set any targets for the race tomorrow Phil told me, “Before the weekend I set a target of the top ten and that was looking realistic after the runnings we've had, but now, well, I may as well still say top ten because I've got nothing to lose. A bit of rain might help,” he said with a wry grin.
Notable absentee's from the qualifying session were Martin Depper in the Forster Motorsport BMW who had a big off at Copse in free practice two which left his car with too much damage for the team to repair in time and also Martin Johnson who has not been at Silverstone today as he has been in attendance at his son's wedding.
So how will these new restrictions effect the super quick Ford's tomorrow? Only time will tell.