Colin Turkington put WSR and BMW on the second row of the grid as qualifying for the latest round of the British Touring Car Championship took place at Donington Park on Saturday.
The four-time title-winner, who is currently fourth in the Drivers’ standings, showed all his champions’ class to gradually work his way down to a time just under half a second from pole position.
His result, combined with other events during the day, enhances BMW’s chances of holding firm at the top of the Manufacturers’ Championship – which it is chasing for a record-breaking 10th time.
WSR stablemate Jake Hill, who sits third in the Drivers’ Championship, made similar improvements towards the end of the session, but had his fastest time removed for exceeding track limits.
The Kent racer was sixth-fastest for Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport, but will start the opening race from ninth place owing to a grid penalty carried over from the last event at Knockhill.
That puts him directly behind Team BMW’s Adam Morgan, whose recent upturn in Saturday form continued in the East Midlands; the Lancashire racer starting seventh.
Adam, who was on the podium on the April visit to Donington’s National Circuit, set his best time on his final lap as well, and had been second-fastest in an FP2 session that was held in mixed weather conditions.
Local hero Stephen Jelley, in the third Team BMW 330e M Sport, was an impressive fourth in FP2, but was unable to convert that speed into a similar result in qualifying. The Knockhill podium finisher starts 20th.
Colin Turkington (Team BMW) said: “Fourth is a fair result and it’s pretty much where we’ve been this year. Qualifying was tough because of the limited dry running in practice and the balance wasn’t what I needed, though we did improve the BMW throughout and I thought the lap was decent. We need things to be perfect to challenge for pole and when they’re not, like today, we’re close, but not quite there. I hope things can come back towards us a bit tomorrow. We’ll do everything we can.”
Adam Morgan (Team BMW) said: “Overall we’re in the mix. We came in late for a new set of tyres and I was able to set my best time with a last-lap wonder, so I’m pleased about that. It’s tough against the front-wheel-drive cars because the advantage we used to have in the traction corners isn’t there any more through no fault of our own, but that’s two good qualifying sessions on the bounce and we’ll do our best to maximise points tomorrow.”