Colin Turkington stormed to pole position in the fifth round of the 2014 British Touring Car Championship at Croft, taking his own lap record and throwing it into the wilderness in the process.
The West Surrey Racing driver moved to the top of the times early in the session before smashing his 2013 effort to make it three consecutive poles at Croft for the championship leader.
It wasn’t long before Turkington’s lap record from last year was dismantled by several drivers, Jason Plato initially going fastest before Andrew Jordan disposed of the MG driver from the top of the times seconds later.
The reigning champion also spent literally seconds at the head of the times before Turkington jumped to the top with an initially scorching effort of 1m23.817s, which remained until a brief red flag stoppage to replace a tyre stack removed by the spinning Volkswagen of Alain Menu.
Once the session got underway again, Turkington’s time stayed untroubled before the Northern Irishman completely blew away the field with a pole lap of 1m23.246s, over a second quicker than his 1m24.4s pole position lap of 12 months ago.
The closest rivals to the BMW man turned out to be the works Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourers of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal, the latter briefly taking the front row spot before his team-mate mate Shedden grabbed the position.
They were both then demoted to share row two as the MG of Plato moved up to second place, although an off at the start of his next lap with under a minute to go effectively ended his final charge.
“That’s about the best we could have managed”, said Plato afterwards.
Plato settled for a front row place, although Turkington’s sublime effort put him a hefty 0.370s clear of his nearest rival to put him in the prime position to extend his points lead even with 45kg of penalty ballast in the BMW 125i.
Jordan’s Pirtek Racing Honda Civic will line up behind the two works Civic Tourers on row three, which he will share with Turkington’s team-mate Rob Collard.
The second MG of Sam Tordoff was next up ahead of Adam Morgan‘s WIX Racing Mercedes A-Class, Menu recovering from his flamboyant moment to finish ninth in the BMR Racing Passat.
The top 10 was rounded out by Rob Austin who thoroughly rewarded the hard efforts of his team after his practice crash, finishing within a second of Turkington in the patched-up Audi A4.
The final WSR BMW of Nick Foster was relegated to 13th place in a late flurry of times during the final minutes, while Aron Smith had his quickest time removed and dropped down to 11th.
Chris Stockton‘s Chevrolet Cruze meanwhile will not partake in Sunday’s action after suffering from engine troubles that cannot be fixed at the circuit.
Race one on Sunday gets underway at 12:02, while race two begins at 14:39 and race three finally at 17:06.
You can follow all the action with us at www.thecheckeredflag.co.uk or on Twitter at @tcfBTCC.