Colin Turkington put WSR and BMW on the front row at Silverstone on Saturday after one of the most closely-fought British Touring Car Championship qualifying sessions in recent years.
The four-time champion equalled Team BMW’s best qualifying result of the year in second place – just 0.012 seconds away from pole position – after a superb effort at the Home of British Motor Racing.
Completing an excellent day for the Manufacturers’ Championship leaders, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill put his BMW 330e M Sport fourth on the grid for Sunday’s opening race.
It was Jake, third in the Drivers’ points, who showed best initially as the Kent racer – who has won four times this year – topped opening practice and was also fastest in a Q1 portion of qualifying in which just 0.109s covered the top 10 cars.
His fastest lap in the final part of qualifying – the ‘Top-10 Showdown’ – in which the fastest 10 cars in Q1 battled for the top spot, would have given him pole, but was disallowed for exceeding track limits.
His next-best effort put him fourth on the grid, albeit only 0.045s away from pole.
Colin, meanwhile, progressed from Q1 in third place and improved his pace by five hundredths of a second in the Showdown to wind up second on the grid meaning BMW is the only brand of car to appear on each of the front two rows.
Fellow Team BMW drivers Adam Morgan and Stephen Jelley will start 11th and 17th for the opening race.
Lancashire racer Adam showed top-10 speed in opening practice and looked to have made the Showdown with his best qualifying effort with just a minute of Q1 to go.
Unfortunately, that effort would ultimately leave him just 0.046s away from progressing.
Stephen was even more unlucky, an issue with his car’s hybrid system forcing an unscheduled pitstop midway through Q1 just as his tyres were reaching peak operating conditions.
Tomorrow’s three races will all be broadcast live on ITV4 in HD from 1100.
Colin Turkington (Team BMW) said: “I’m really happy to be on the front row. From what happened in practice I thought fifth or sixth was what we were capable of, but that was a one-lap wonder. We put new tyres on the BMW and it just livened everything up and helped us unlock that bit of extra speed. The times are so close here though that it could just as easily have been pole or fifth. From the front row we can put everyone under pressure and hopefully finish on the podium, but it’s going to be so close.”
Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) said: “The second row is a good place to be starting. Colin and I are ahead of our main rivals for the Manufacturers’ Championship so that’s fantastic and we just have to knuckle down tomorrow. I want to get past a few cars because I still have a Drivers’ Championship to fight for, so if I can get to the front there’s a good chance. The BMW’s been good on old tyres and new tyres and the balance doesn’t really change, so that’s all positive for our chances tomorrow.”
Adam Morgan (Team BMW) said: “It’s a bit disappointing to be so close to be a tenth and a half off pole, but only starting 11th. I found it a bit distracting in a tow and lost the braking points a little so I tried to do it by myself. Maybe if I’d managed the tow a bit better I’d have made the Showdown. The BMW’s racey, but the fact that the times are so close and that we’re all on the medium tyre means it’ll be hard for anyone to make a lot of progress from where they start. We’ll still give it everything though.”
Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) said: “It’s not where I want to be starting, but the main problem was that I had a hybrid failure mid-session. I pitted to have it re-set and while it was operational after that, it wasn’t right, so I went out to look for a tow, got a great one to make a little improvement, but with a hobbled hybrid system, when the times are that close it makes a big difference to your grid position. We’ll be banking on trying to make enough progress that we can be in the reckoning for the reversed-grid draw.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “It’s very good to have both Colin and Jake on the front two rows, both for themselves in the Drivers’ Championship and for BMW in the Manufacturers’ points. It gives both of them a good chance to win tomorrow – or be on the podium at the very least. The first lap is going to be crucial with some of our key championship rivals right behind us on the grid so it will be a big battle from the word go.”