Ash Sutton claimed his first Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship pole position in the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti for tomorrow’s opening race at Knockhill.
The 26 year old set a best lap time of 50.535s early on in the session to put him in the best possible position to close the gap to current points leader and defending champion Colin Turkington.
He said: “We’ve needed that. It’s great to get the first Infiniti Q50 pole position, that’s another thing ticked off. But it wasn’t easy! Obviously the past couple of weekends we’ve suffered with pace in qualifying due to issues in Free Practice, but it was nice to have a free day today.
“Obviously it’s mega important to claim that little point to claw back on Colin for pole. The plan is to try and outscore him from that point onwards and this is our perfect opportunity. We’ve not been in this position yet this year so it’s our prime time to try and do something about that points gap between us.”
Turkington looked like he would be lining up alongside Sutton for round ten of the series but a late charge from MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Jake Hill demoted him to third.
Hill said: “I’m just happy that we managed to stick it right up at the front, it’s my first-ever front-row start in terms of qualifying pace which is absolutely fantastic. It was just nice to be able to pull a lap together. I knew it was in me. We thought maybe a 50.7s was on the cards, but to grab a 50.588s was fantastic, I’m chuffed to bits.”
Dan Cammish was fourth fastest ahead of the Toyota of Tom Ingram in fifth.
Home favourite, and events operations manager at the circuit, Rory Butcher, couldn’t make it a hat-trick of BTCC pole positions and had to settle for sixth in the Motorbase Ford Focus.
Mike Bushell impressed in the sole Power Maxed Car Care Racing Vauxhall Astra by setting the seventh fastest time. He will look to open his point scoring account tomorrow after a luckless first appearance of the season last time out at Oulton Park.
Aiden Moffat was eighth fastest in the second Infiniti, his best qualifying performance of the season so far. Behind him was Matt Neal who may well have finished further up the timesheets but for a big crash which temporarily halted the session. His Honda team now face a race against time to get the car fully repaired for tomorrow’s races. Neal, who himself was checked over by the trackside medical team immediately after the incident, will also undergo a second medical assessment tomorrow to decide if he is fit to race.
Tom Oliphant rounded out the top ten in the second BMW just four tenths of a second shy of Sutton’s benchmark time.
The opening race of the day begins at 11:10am and will be broadcast live on ITV2.