Team BMW’s Colin Turkington will start the first of Sunday’s three Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship races from pole position after producing a quite brilliant lap in qualifying at Croft Circuit.
In what proved to be a record-breaking session at the North Yorkshire venue, the four-time champion - who is known as the ‘King of Croft’ in deference to his 13 wins at the circuit - saved his best until the closing moments where he set a new lap record of 1:21.468.
What made Turkington's achievement even more impressive is that he set the time in his 2019 title-winning 3 Series, due to his latest car being too damaged to repair in time following a major crash at Oulton Park two weeks ago.
Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s Dan Rowbottom was another driver to leave it late before posting his best time, securing his spot on the outside of the front whilst home hero Dan Lloyd was third.
Like Turkington, the Hyundai driver has endured a rollercoaster few weeks after being hospitalised by the aforementioned accident at Oulton Park, with his Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com team producing a Herculean effort to fix his i30N machine in time.
The Yorkshireman had looked on course to clinch a maiden pole position at one stage before late improvements dropped him back to third, just ahead of team-mate Tom Ingram who was fourth.
Gordon Sheddden completed the top five whilst ROKiT MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill and reigning champion Ash Sutton were sixth and seventh respectively. Tom Chilton, George Gamble and Aiden Moffat rounded out the top ten.
A number of drivers did hit trouble during the session, which was truncated by three red flag stoppages. The most notable of those in strife was championship leader Josh Cook who could only manage 20th after suffering a broken wishbone at the halfway mark.
Commenting on clinching pole, Turkington said: “It’s always easier when you’re in the car, when you’re out of the car you feel the aches and pains, but this is my trusted 2019-winning car. Team BMW has had a massive job to basically rebuild this car again from the crashed car at Oulton Park, so it’s been all hands on deck and a lot of late nights.
“If I’m making a comeback anywhere, I want it to be Croft, so yesterday in shakedown I really wasn’t feeling it, but I chipped away at it today, improved the car and improved my technique, and the magic happened again in qualifying.”
It wasn’t just the BTCC that had fans on the edge of their seats during the day however as the championships that make up the TOCA support bill also took centre stage around the challenging 2.12-mile layout as well.
The ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA - which is home to potential Formula 1 stars - led the way with two scintillating races. Aiden Neate marked his 16th birthday in style with a commanding pole-to-flag victory in the opening encounter before Alex Dunne triumphed in race two.
Meanwhile, Harley Haughton charged to victory in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge whilst Nelson King reigned supreme in the opening Quaife MINI CHALLENGE Trophy bout.
Rounding out the day’s action was a pair of pulsating qualifying sessions from Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB and Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship. Steve Roberts came out on top to clinch top spot in the Porsche category whilst Sonny Smith set the pace in the Ginetta ranks.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship returns tomorrow (Sunday 26th June) to headline what promises be an action-packed day of racing with three races, whilst there will also be a further seven contests from the TOCA support package.
Gates open at 08:00 on race day with adult tickets to purchase on the gate from £35.00. Teen tickets are priced at £10.00 whist children 12 and under accompanied by an adult are admitted to the circuit free of charge.