Team BMW had a tough qualifying session for the final round of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch, with championship leader Colin Turkington eighth fastest and Tom Oliphant 12th.
However, there was still reason to celebrate, with Colin now confirmed as the winner of the inaugural Goodyear Wingfoot Award, as the driver with the best qualifying record across the 2020 season.
Perhaps unsurprisingly for mid-November, the conditions were wet throughout the day’s single practice and qualifying sessions at the Kent circuit that featured numerous incidents, but not involving either Team BMW driver.
Both Tom and Colin were lapping in the mid 55-second bracket throughout the first two-thirds of qualifying, with the WSR-run team opting to make a set-up change on Colin’s car after the session was red-flagged for a second time.
The change paid off and the Northern Irishman found another three-tenths of a second; popping his BMW 330i M Sport up into eighth position. He was about to head out for another run when the session was red-flagged again and then declared with two minutes left to run.
Tom struggled for grip and was unable to improve on his early 55.544s lap; with the Leamington Spa-based driver lamenting 12th spot on the grid, his equal worst qualifying result of the year.
Although not one of Colin’s qualifying highlights of 2020, his consistency throughout the year, with pole positions at Donington Park and Snetterton, means he has won the Goodyear Wingfoot Award.
The 38-year-old is now focusing on the Drivers’ Championship battle tomorrow, with BMW and Team BMW also leading the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ title races.
Colin Turkington said: “It was a difficult session as there was not much grip. We were just trying to get the tyres working and trying to get them switched on. We did make gains at the end and found a chunk of time to go eighth. I’d prefer to be higher up, but it could also have been the case that we could have ended up further down. We do need to find some more speed for tomorrow, as we expect the conditions to be about the same, so for us I think the wetter the better. It’s really nice to be taking the Goodyear Wingfoot Award home. It’s something I’ve had my eye on all year as it rewards our strong qualifying performances, so I think it’s our just rewards to have picked up the trophy.”
Tom Oliphant said: “That equals my worst qualifying of the year. We just didn’t have the grip. Colin and I were split by a tenth and then he made a pretty big step change at the end which clearly gave him a bit of speed. If we’d gone that way, maybe we could have got another few tenths. It’s a shame as last year we were first, third and fourth on the grid in similar conditions. We’ll work on it overnight, and hopefully have a better car tomorrow in the race. I’m pretty confident in the wet, and in race pace we’re strong, especially as the front-wheel drive cars tend to wear their tyres a little bit in these conditions. We’re starting 12th, which is a bit naff, but there’s plenty of people in front I think I can beat, so we’ll see where we get tomorrow.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We’re a bit disappointed. We certainly should be higher up, but we think we have an idea of what it might be. Colin at least rescued it and went from12th to eighth, but we have three championship contenders ahead. On the other hand, we still have three 24-lap races. We’ll see what the weather brings us tomorrow. It’s very slippery, and this circuit does sort of does favour front-wheel drive. Tomorrow, we just need to be there at the end of each race, keep out of mischief, and hope the other people don’t attack us. The weather is also going to be very important.”