Gordon Shedden has continued his return to the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) by taking pole for Sunday’s opening race (Round Four) at Snetterton.
The return of the Top Ten Showdown saw stories all over the grid as the Halfords Racing with Cataclean triple champion pipped Colin Turkington in a frenetic ten minute shootout ahead of Tom Ingram who competes the top three.
But there were struggles for defending champion, Ash Sutton, as well as Jason Plato and Josh Cook who failed to make it through Q1 with ballast seemingly playing a part.
To begin the session, it was Turkington that led the way by +0.291secs ahead of Ingram, Shedden, Oliphant, Jelley, Jackson, Lloyd, Morgan, Hill and Smiley who rounded out the top 10 as the showdown was at the forefront of drivers’ minds in Q1.
The majority of the grid headed into the pitlane to mount a final push going into eight minutes remaining and as the minutes ticked down, the likes of Sutton, Plato, Cook and Butcher needed a late charge to make it through.
With two minutes to go, Plato could only improve to 18th while Sutton sat in the pits in 15th. Further up, Butcher went into 5th and Hill improved into 6th.
Rowbottom sat just outside the top ten in 11th with one more chance to improve as a result of the chequered flag coming out. The Halfords Racing with Cataclean driver had personal bests in the first two sectors but he only just missed out on the top 10.
Q1 concluded with Turkington, Ingram, Shedden, Oliphant, Butcher, Hill, Jelley, Jackson, Lloyd and Morgan set to battle it out in the Top Ten showdown, this meant that the likes of Sutton, Plato and Cook would not take part and would have work to do in the opening race on Sunday.
The times reset, Hill, Jackson, Butcher, Shedden and Ingram went into the pits after not crossing their tyres over meaning they’d only get one or two laps to get it right.
With five minutes left, Turkington offered the target time but Lloyd went atop the times only for it to be removed due to track limits.
This meant Oliphant led Turkington, Morgan and Jelley with the other drivers not setting times at this point at just under four minutes to go.
Turkington had a personal best in the second sector with 1:56.067s achieved to head atop the times ahead of Morgan by -0.775secs as Oliphant went into second. Lloyd’s poor luck continued as he exchanged second with Oliphant only to have his time taken away for track limits.
Ingram went onto pole only for this to be traded by Shedden and Turkington with the latter returning to the top. Oliphant was into fourth but like Lloyd had his time removed for track limits meaning Jelley and Jackson rounded out the top five with half a minute to go.
Shedden did an absolute best in the middle sector as he went for the chequered flag and he secured pole with 1:55.208 which couldn’t be matched by Turkington. Hill mounted a late push last taking the flag to go into eighth from 10th.
Results in full to follow