WSR’s four BMW drivers have the British Touring Car Championship Manufacturers’ title on their minds after a Saturday qualifying at the Brands Hatch season finale.
The quartet of BMW 330e M Sport race cars will all start the first of tomorrow’s races from inside the front six rows after an ultra-close afternoon session held in unusually warm 23-degree October temperatures.
With just one second covering the top 20 drivers at Brands Hatch, the competition was as intense as has been seen in 2023 as Colin Turkington and Jake Hill filled the fourth row on the grid.
Four-time series champion Colin struck first; the Northern Irishman putting his Team BMW machine seventh with a lap set midway through the session – just 0.1s away from the front row.
Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport driver Jake – a five-time winner this year – set his best time on his final lap of the session, pulling himself up from 11th to eighth as the local hero set a time almost identical to that of Colin.
Adam Morgan, who lost valuable track time in FP1 to a drive-line issue, was just two hundredths of a second further back as the Lancashire racer completed the top 10.
One spot behind him was team-mate Stephen Jelley, the Leicester racer having been fastest of all in the second sector and putting his BMW in 11th spot.
BMW currently head the Manufacturers’ Championship by 19 points with 27 races completed and 121 still to play for in Sunday’s triple-header.
The whole race day will be broadcast live on ITV4 from 1045.
Colin Turkington (Team BMW) said: “My BMW felt really good in qualifying and I feel I left it all out there on the track. I’m at the stage where if you go looking for more laptime, you end up going slower, but I think we have an incredibly strong race car and that’s going to be crucial with our target to win the Manufacturers’ title tomorrow. I only had five seconds of hybrid use, which is ok, but it’s not 15 like some cars and it makes a big difference around here. I can do that laptime again and again, which puts us in good shape for tomorrow.”
Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) said: “It was hard work and hot work. It’s the hardest I’ve had to push all year to get the laptime out of the car and I threw everything at my last lap to get on the fourth row. There was no option but to go full-send. The speed-trap figures aren’t good for us today, but we’ll work hard to have a big dive into everything tonight to make sure we have the speed we need for Sunday.”
Adam Morgan (Team BMW) said: “The car felt mega; probably the best it’s been all year in qualifying and it’s just about the closest I’ve been to my team-mates. My first run was a really strong lap and I couldn’t improve on it. We’re in the mix and some of the drivers just ahead of me in the points are behind me on the grid, which is good. We don’t have the pace today to match the front-wheel-drive cars, but we can run close to, or at, this pace in race trim and I don’t think they can, so that gives us a decent chance tomorrow.”
Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) said: “The BMW feels really good so the laptime doesn’t really match. I did two laptimes that were pretty similar but didn’t quite string the sectors together. The handling’s great and that gives me confidence for tomorrow, but there’s a bit of wondering how some of the other cars have done the times they have. I’m sure we have a really good race car because I can match my qualifying time in the races and I’m certain others can’t, so having our four cars where they are puts us in a decent place.”
Dick Bennetts, Team Principal, said: “We’d hoped to have been higher up, but the focus is really on tomorrow and our aim of winning the Manufacturers’ Championship for BMW. We know we have a good race car, and being able to run two races on the soft tyres should be good for us. The BTCC has a habit of throwing up a bit of drama when you least expect it, so we need to put ourselves in a position to take full advantage of this tomorrow.”