Colin Turkington scored a remarkable British Touring Car Championship pole position at Brands Hatch as WSR BMWs qualified one-two-three on the grid for Team BMW and ROKiT MB Motorsport.
The result marked not only the first top-three lockout on the grid in WSR’s 41-year history, but also a milestone 25th career BTCC pole for Northern Irishman Colin.
Four-time series champion Colin had not challenged for the top positions during practice, but immediately marked himself out as a pole contender with an ultra-quick early lap in qualifying aboard his BMW 330e M Sport.
He improved his time by two tenths of a second with a third of the session to go; his mark of 47.539s proving unbeatable in the time remaining and maintaining BMW’s record of being the only manufacturer to score a BTCC pole since the beginning of the hybrid era.
Colin’s pole time knocked Donington Park race winner Jake Hill back to second place at his home circuit; the Tunbridge Wells racer having held the top spot at the halfway mark.
In qualifying second, ROKiT MB Motorsport racer Jake made it two front-row results from the two events held so far in 2022.
Stephen Jelley, who had been fastest in the afternoon practice session, pressured his WSR stablemates throughout the 30-minute session and held second spot until the halfway mark before Colin surged to the front.
His final lap proved to be his fastest – just 0.003s slower than Jake – which was enough to give him his best BTCC qualifying result since returning to WSR last year.
Sunday’s action will feature as part of a combined broadcast package with three hours of coverage from Brands Hatch being screened on the flagship ITV channel in addition to the more regular coverage on ITV4.
Colin Turkington said: “It’s fantastic to be on pole position and to lead the first one-two-three WSR have ever had. After practice I knew I had pace, but didn’t think it would be enough for pole. The BMW in qualifying is the best car I’ve ever had at this track. I think the resurfacing at Paddock and Graham Hill bend has removed the big disadvantage we used to have at those corners and given a lot more grip. It’s very easy to overdrive in conditions like this, so it takes quite a lot to drive at 99 per cent rather than 105. If I can get a clean start tomorrow and get the tyres into the performance window nice and quick, I’m sure I can be in the reckoning for a win.”
Jake Hill said: “This is such a good result for ROKiT MB Motorsport and for BMW. A one-two-three is pretty incredible, and I’m especially pleased for Dick [Bennetts – Team Principal] as he’s never had one before in qualifying. Even though Colin got me at the end, I’m happy to be on the front row. I didn’t have hybrid after my pitstop so I’m glad I made it count when I had it, but even without it, I was pretty close to my best time. We’ll have a talk about tomorrow and work out what the best strategy is for the first few laps because it’s important to maximise the performance we have on race day. The times were so close in the top 10 that we know that if we slip up on anything, there’ll be a lot of cars right behind ready to attack us.”
Stephen Jelley said: “It’s the best result I’ve had in qualifying since I came back to WSR last year and getting a one-two-three is obviously a mega result for the team, but I’m disappointed because I had time left in the BMW and I think I could have been even quicker. For my final lap, which was my fastest, I lined up behind a row of cars to get a tow down the start-finish straight, but by getting in behind them, I wasn’t getting fresh air into the car and my hybrid unit got too hot, so I couldn’t use the full amount of energy on that lap. That’s frustrating, but from the second row the podium is the very least of my targets tomorrow.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “To get not only a pole position, but a one-two-three, is just a fantastic result. It’s the first time in the 41-year history of WSR that we’ve achieved this and a reflection of the quality of car we have in the BMW 330e M Sport. Everybody who has worked so hard since Donington deserves this, from the technical team here through to the drivers for what they did on-track. Tomorrow’s when it really matters though so we’ll go through all the details we need to tonight to make sure we can get the job done in the races and leave here with at least one win under our belt.”