Sam Tordoff surprised even himself with the ease of which he claimed pole position for the eighth Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting at Rockingham.
The Leeds driver made it back-to-back poles following a similar achievement at Knockhill two weekends ago, finishing a comfortable 0.484s clear of his nearest rival on a day that the Triple Eight MG squad shone.
The Rockingham circuit last season saw Tordoff’s team-mate Jason Plato head a Triple Eight one-two in qualifying, Tordoff this time gaining the upper hand in the crucial qualifying session with a fine lap that shocked even himself.
“It was a fantastic lap”, Tordoff told The Checkered Flag afterwards. “I’m surprised actually by how far up the road we were. Nobody could get close after that, including myself.
“I think it just goes to show that the car is good round here; we knew that already because of last year, so it was just a case of refining it and I’m comfortable with this track as well.”
Tordoff and Plato had topped a free practice session each from earlier in the afternoon on Saturday, and it was Tordoff’s early lap in the opening half of qualifying that proved enough as the track was at its best in a day plagued by misty weather conditions.
“It’s always nice to go and put one over your team-mate” added Tordoff, who had traded lap times with Plato all Saturday at Rockingham. “Especially when they’re as quick as JP.
“The track was definitely quicker around the start of the session, so it was really a case of putting it together when the track was dry enough.”
The two-time BTCC race winner feels that Saturday’s hard work puts him in the prime position to add to his victory tally, but remains wary of the threat of the rear-wheel drive BMW 125i of fellow front row starter, Colin Turkington, who split the MGs with a late surge in the dying moments of the 30-minute contest.
Tordoff added: “I can only be happy with that. We’ve got reasonable race pace; we’ll have to see how Colin [Turkington] gets on with carrying the ballast around here.
“He’s going to be there or thereabouts and it’s a long run into turn two so he may get the jump on us. Just take it as it goes, we’ve given ourselves the best chance to win, done the hard work now and its just a case of getting off the line well and keeping it there.”
Luck and reliability in particular has not been on the pole-sitter’s side in recent rounds, mechanical and electrical gremlins halting his progress from strong positions at Snetterton and Knockhill.
Tordoff hopes for a change in fortune, concluding: “The last two weekends at Snetterton and Knockhill – we’ve been at the front but let down by car failures. If we can have a reliable day tomorrow, I’ve built up a massive slice of good luck just in case!”