Swedish racer Andreas Backman has taken the first pole position of his TCR UK Series career, ahead of championship contender Ollie Taylor and Stewart Lines. With a drying track surface to contend with, Backman waited until the last possible moment to begin his run, and thus benefited greatly as the track continued to dry out.
Albeit aided by good tactical awareness from the WestCoast Racing team, Backman’s efforts were particularly impressive as he managed to go six tenths of a second quicker than anybody else in a car which he’d never driven before. As previously reported, Backman is using the vacant SWR Honda Civic on a temporary basis this weekend, as WestCoast Racing have had to split their Volkswagen resources between multiple commitments.
Alongside Backman on the front row of the starting grid shall be Ollie Taylor. The only driver with a hope of dethroning Dan Lloyd at the top of the points table, Taylor needs to have a stellar event at Croft this weekend to keep his title chances alive. Out-qualifying Lloyd is certainly a good start, however Backman won’t make further progression easy for the Pyro Motorsport driver.
Another somewhat surprise result to come from the mixed weather qualifying session is Stewart Lines’ third place grid slot. This is by far the best performance we’ve seen from the Maximum Motorsport driver/team-owner during qualifying throughout 2018, giving him a fantastic chance to claim his first podium result of the season.
Fourth place on the time sheets is where you will find championship leader, Dan Lloyd. Having dominated the earlier practice sessions, Lloyd will be frustrated to have lost out in qualifying, although he was never really in contention for pole position in truth. A five-place grid penalty, that he picked up for contact with Lines at Oulton Park, was always going to limit him in terms of grid position. However, with a relatively small entry list, this penalty demotes Lloyd all the way to the back of the grid.
Lloyd showed during practice that he is arguably the fastest driver around Croft circuit this weekend though, so should be more than capable of carving his way through the pack. From an onlooker’s point of view, it should be quite a good spectacle.
Jessica Backman, Andreas’ sister, rounded out the top five in her WestCoast Racing Volkswagen, while Finlay Crocker claimed sixth place on his return to the championship. Lewis Kent seemingly struggled to get to grips with the tricky track conditions and subsequently could only manage seventh place in the Hyundai i30N TCR. Rounding out the field, Darelle Wilson was four seconds off the pace in his Vauxhall, undoubtedly hindered by a lack of practice time and a slightly broken front splitter.
As for the reversed-grid second race (which takes each driver’s second-fastest lap and reverses the top ten of those times), Ollie Taylor shall start from pole position as he only posted one flying lap in the entirety of qualifying. In the context of the championship battle, this will give him a further edge over Dan Lloyd, who will start the second race from seventh on the grid.