2018 BTCC campaign kicks off with dramatic qualifying at Brands Hatch
WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Jack Goff claimed the opening pole position of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship after a dramatic qualifying session at Brands Hatch today (7 April).
Goff set the pace early on in his Honda Civic Type R but he was soon pipped by a new qualifying lap record from Halfords Yuasa Racing debutant Dan Cammish.
The Yorkshireman’s 47.946s lap time was hugely impressive and seemed almost certain for pole position – to the delight of his new employers at Honda.
Disaster struck as the session edged towards its final ten minutes, however, when Cammish drove through a red light in the pit-lane. As per the regulations, it meant Cammish would have all of his previously set lap times removed due to the indiscretion, although he would be able to return to the action to put things right.
With Cammish now dropped to the bottom of the order it was left to Team GardX Racing with Motorbase’s Sam Tordoff to sneak into second spot on his return to the series, whilst Team BMW’s Colin Turkington moved his 1 Series into third.
It was all eyes on a fired up Cammish as the 28-year-old blasted his all-new Honda Civic Type R around the 1.2-mile circuit in the closing stages. He immediately launched his Japanese machine back up to sixth and then improved again to grab fourth. He had one final attempt before the chequered flag fell, but it wasn’t to be and the impressive new boy had to settle for a place on the second row of the grid.
Andrew Jordan and Matt Neal ensured that both BMW and Honda would be further represented in the top six, whilst Tom Chilton completed his eye-catching day with seventh for Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher.
Matt Simpson spent the entire day inside the top ten and backed that up with his best-ever qualifying performance. Simpson took eighth ahead of a slightly frustrated Tom Ingram, who had taken a berth on the front row for the last two seasons around the Indy circuit.
Brett Smith made sure that both WIX Racing with Eurotech cars would score top ten positions as he also enjoyed arguably the most impressive display of his BTCC career so far.
Reigning champion Ash Sutton endured an indifferent day as the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing star could only manage 18th on the grid, whilst his experienced team-mate Jason Plato was 29th.
The competitiveness of Britain’s best championship was there for all to see with the top 30 cars separated by less than a second.
When the dust settled, it was Goff celebrating his third pole position in-a-row, having taken top spot at Silverstone and Brands Hatch at the tail-end of 2017. Such has been Goff’s recent progress that some have tipped him for an outright title tilt this season, and this will surely have served to further fuel those predictions.
Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the 2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place at Brands Hatch tomorrow (8 April) with ten of thousands of fans expected to descend on the Kent circuit, with many more watching the action live on ITV4. Coverage gets underway on ITV4 at 10:30, with full pre-race build-up, before live and exclusive action of every race on the bill.
Jack Goff said: “We were second before Dan (Cammish) lost his times, but we’ll take it anyway. We ended last year on a high, and it’s pretty special to get the first pole of 2018 for WIX Racing with Eurotech. I’ll need to keep my wits about me tomorrow and make sure I don’t make any mistakes as happened at the GP circuit last season. Hats off to all the Eurotech boys and girls, who have done an absolutely fantastic job – and to achieve this with a different engine in the car compared to last year proves some of the doubters wrong. The pace seems good over a long run, and the drop-off doesn’t look to be too bad at all, so hopefully we can put it on the top step of the podium tomorrow.”
Sam Tordoff said: “I was a bit worried, because we hadn’t shown that kind of pace in practice but we knew it was there so it was just a case of unlocking it. The Focus RS is a completely different beast to the ST. I said to David (Bartrum – Team Principal) that I’m only coming back and driving for you if we have a car that can win. It just clicked. All credit to the Motorbase guys. They’ve done a lot of work on the car over the winter and I think that’s proven where we’re at. You’ve got to remain patient out there; stay out and wait for the opportunity to present itself. You can’t lose your cool. The car’s good and we’ll see where we can get to tomorrow. Wet or dry, we’re at the right end of the grid and that’s the important thing.”
Colin Turkington said: “I’m really pleased with third. I didn’t think we’d get that far up the grid after practice. We’ve had a difficult car handling wise but I guess so has everybody else. The track just feels different. There isn’t as much grip as normal or it’s certainly not the same as it was when we tested here a few weeks ago. It’s just about trying to get the car in a place where it’s nice to drive. If you ask a tiny bit too much of it, it tells you no. You have to pull the reins on a little bit and understand that you can’t drive the car like you did two weeks ago and you’ve to drive to its limit. I reacted to the conditions as best I could. If you get yourself up on the first couple of rows you’ve done a good job in this field.”
Dan Cammish said: “I’m heartbroken – absolutely through the floor. It was probably the best lap I’ve ever driven, and to come in and deliver that kind of performance with a new team and a front-wheel drive car that demands a totally different way of driving, I think was pretty special. To then be stripped of that is obviously disappointing. I think I deserved it and the team deserved it, but I’ve got to keep my head up – and if you’d offered me fourth place at the start of the weekend, I’d have bitten your hand off. If I wasn’t motivated before, you can rest assured I certainly am now!”
Andrew Jordan said: “I’m happy actually because all of us have struggled this morning. You look at how close it is, it’s cigarette paper close. I’m happy with that. Through the winter I felt a lot more comfortable in the car and myself and Colin (Turkington) are separated by one hundredth. It’s nice having that comfort and confidence in the car – not trying to gain too much in places you’re not going to get much from. We were just struggling with balance. We just tweaked it in areas and the little changes got it to a good place.”
2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Brands Hatch Indy
1 Jack GOFF (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech 48.038s (90.52mph)
2 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +0.093s
3 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.105s
4 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.107s
5 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.114s
6 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.126s
7 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +0.191s
8 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +0.208s
9 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.219s
10 Brett SMITH (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +0.230s
11 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing +0.251s
12 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +0.272s
13 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +0.290s
14 James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +0.341s
15 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +0.358s
16 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.364s
17 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.381s
18 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.399s
19 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +0.418s
20 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +0.435s
21 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +0.440s
22 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +0.612s
23 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +0.614s
24 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +0.677s
25 Jake HILL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +0.691s
26 James NASH (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.733s
27 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +0.806s
28 Tom BOARDMAN (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +0.815s
29 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.881s
30 Michael CAINE (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +0.921s
31 Josh PRICE (GBR) Autoglym Academy Racing +1.136s
32 Sam SMELT (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +1.181s