Aron Smith claimed his first Saturday pole position in qualifying for the third meeting of the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Thruxton, the BMR Racing man topping a session heavily truncated by incidents.
His 1m16.785s lap came late in proceedings of a chaotic qualifying session that ran well over the 30 minutes scheduled, just 0.020s ahead of the Honda Yuasa Racing Civic of Gordon Shedden and the latter’s team-mate, Matt Neal.
The session was subjected to an initial lengthy delay after just seven minutes, the stoppage for a huge accident between Mike Bushell and Simon Belcher exiting Allard.
Bushell’s AmD Tuning Ford Focus was exiting the pits while Belcher’s Toyota was coming through the right-hander alongside him, the pair connecting and spearing hard into the barriers. Both emerged from their cars, although Bushell was taken to Southampton hospital with a suspected broken left femur.
After the cars were removed, 23 minutes of the session remained following a 23-minute delay. The team that came out of the blocks quickest of all were Honda, as both Neal and Shedden used the slipstream effectively to set the fastest times of Saturday afternoon.
Neal’s time of 1m16.969s was enough to move up to the top of the times ahead of his team-mate by just 0.220s, although the time of 1m16.922s from Shedden was removed for the Scot not respecting track limits.
A second stoppage then came when Hunter Abbott‘s Audi A4 went off backwards at Goodwood, collecting the tyre barrier with seven minutes remaining.
The drama then escalated with five minutes remaining, starting when Dave Newsham matched Neal’s time only to lose it for track limits, the Chevrolet man ending 16th by the session’s conclusion.
Adam Morgan then jumped to the top of the times, but his effort was then beaten by Smith moments later to seal a first qualifying pole position of the Irishman’s BTCC career, ahead of Shedden who made it onto the front row ahead of the 75kg-laden Civic of Neal.
Morgan ended fourth for Mercedes ahead of Andy Priaulx who jumped to fifth place for West Surrey Racing, Jason Plato next up ahead of MG’s Jack Goff.
Josh Cook was best rookie with eighth place for Power Maxed Racing in another fine qualifying effort, ahead of reigning champion Colin Turkington and WSR’s Rob Collard. Andrew Jordan could only manage 11th for Triple Eight meanwhile, ending his previous run of three pole positions in a row at Thruxton.
Martin Donnelly did not participate in the session due to power steering issues with his Infiniti Q50, a problem that also affected his team-mate Derek Palmer Jr.