Turkington takes pole in frantic final qualifying

Colin Turkington took pole in an amazing final qualifying session of the season. The Team BMR driver took a time just six thousandths of a second faster than Tom Ingram in second.

The rain was just starting to spit as the green flags were waved at the beginning of the session, signalling the start of the final qualifying of the season.

Josh Cook was fastest early in the session, with Jason Plato and Matt Jackson not far behind him. Improvements came, though, as almost everybody headed out as soon as possible to get the most out of the track before the rain started proper.

Not Rob Collard, though. Ever the unlucky man during qualifying, the West Surrey Racing driver returned to the pits before the end of his first lap. The BMW was put up on jacks and a mechanic got under the car to try and figure out what the problem was. It was later revealed to be a gear linkage problem.

Ingram had not long improved his time to go to the top of the timings, ahead of Plato, and Ashley Sutton, when the red flags were brought out.

Aron Smith, who was running in ninth, had gone wide and into the gravel. As the Irishman hit the gravel, the car tipped and ended up on its roof. Thankfully, Smith was fine, but he would be ruled out of qualifying for the rest of the session.

As the marshals set about clearing Smith’s car, the rain started to get heavier. By the time the green flags returned to the track, the windscreen wipers were on.

Many of the drivers who had set times before the red flag only headed out for an out lap, deciding there wasn’t enough grip to improve their times. Those who hadn’t had a chance, like Kelvin Fletcher, Aiden Moffat, and Rob Collard, were going to have to set their fast times in the wet, putting them at the bottom of the timing screen.

With ten minutes left, the weather changed again, but the track was still wet. Some of the drivers at the bottom of the order were finding time on the drying track, getting close to the times of the dry runners, but it was nothing for Ingram to be panicking about.

With eight minutes left, some of the drivers who had managed to get dry running were finding time on the drying track, including Turkington, who jumped all the way up to third. It looked like there might still be a battle to fight, and Ingram was sent back out to be ready.

Cook followed Turkington’s lead, snatching third with less than seven minutes on the clock. But Turkington was still finding time, going purple in sector one, then sector two, then sector three, then sector four.

The Team BMR driver went top with a 1:32.422, a second faster than Ingram.

Plato followed him to second, Cook third, and Goff fourth, Ingram demoted to fifth,

Meanwhile, Collard was finally able to set a competitive time, eventually qualifying fifth.

In the closing minutes of the session, there was shuffling all the way up and down the timing sheets, but nobody was able to beat Turkington’s time, which he improved to 1:31.855. It seemed every car across the line was improving on their time, and their position.

As the seconds ticked down, Ingram was down to third after spending the majority of the session on pole. He seemed like the only driver who wasn’t finding time with every lap. Eventually, on his penultimate lap of the session, Ingram managed a time to put him fourth.

Rob Austin had taken P2 behind Turkington, and it looked like the Handy Motorsports driver would be taking the front row of the grid. But Ingram was still finding time, sneaking through into second, only six thousandths of a second slower than the pole time, which Turkington improved to 1:31.838.

Behind Austin, Plato took fourth, ahead of Abbott, Cook, Goff, Shedden, Morgan, and Moffatt.

Feature image credit: Caroline Rhea

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