BMW and WSR locked out the second row of the grid for the British Touring Car Championship season-opener at Donington Park as a thrilling qualifying session dominated proceedings on Saturday.
Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill and Team BMW’s Colin Turkington will start tomorrow’s first race of 2023 from third and fourth places on the grid after starring in the two-part ‘Top-10 Showdown’ at the East Midlands venue.
Four-time series champion Colin set the fastest time across two earlier practice sessions and went fourth-quickest in the regular 30-minute section of qualifying – one spot ahead of Jake.
But it was Jake, from Kent, who prevailed in the 10-driver ‘Showdown’ that followed immediately afterwards; lapping half a second under his 2022 record pole time to take third spot on the grid.
Northern Irishman Colin was little over a tenth of a second slower in fourth while Team BMW newcomer Adam Morgan qualified eighth.
The Lancashire racer had set top-10 times during the practice sessions, as had his team-mate Stephen Jelley. The Leicester driver qualified 15th for his local race aboard his BMW 330e M Sport.
Tomorrow’s three races will be screened live on ITV4 from 1045 am.
Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport, said: “Donington’s always held a special place in my heart and I’ve usually gone well here. Last year I had pole, a third and a win and qualifying’s gone well again today. Some of the other cars look very fast, but it’s nice to lead the way for BMW. I’ve been third in all the sessions so it’s been a strong one for us. Hopefully tomorrow is even stronger.”
Colin Turkington, Team BMW, said: “I’m pleased to be at the pointy end because sometimes you’re never quite sure where you’re going to fall into the pack. The team’s done a good job and we have a set-up that means we’re not going to need to change things too much for race day. I don’t think we had pole pace in the BMW, so the positive is that we got the most out of the package and we can really try to take advantage of the track conditions tomorrow.”
Adam Morgan, Team BMW, said: “I’m happy to be in the top 10 as getting into the shoot-out was the target, but I definitely feel there was more in me today. I haven’t been quite as quick as Colin and Jake, but If I’d hooked everything up for a qualifying lap, there were definitely another few tenths. I think the BMW will have good race pace and if I can do a bit better and we can make a couple of small adjustments to the car, that can only be a good thing for our race pace.”
Stephen Jelley, Team BMW, said: “It’s not where I want to be, but that just means everyone can watch me making up the places tomorrow. I was on a good lap towards the end of qualifying when there was a yellow flag at the chicane and I had to back off, so without that who knows what the result might have been because I was a few hundredths off the top 10 at the time… I’ve won races after qualifying 15th and it looks like we’ll have all kinds of weather tomorrow, so there’s still everything to play for.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “To have two BMWs on the second row is a pretty strong start. We’d like to have repeated last year’s one-two, but to have Jake and Colin in a three-four is a strong result. Some of the other cars look strong on peak laptime, but the BMW is very good on tyre wear and looked excellent on the longer runs in practice so that all bodes well for our four drivers tomorrow. Let’s see what it brings.”