Dave Newsham led the Toyota challenge in qualifying for the penultimate rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone in what proved to be a strong session for three of the four Avensis privateers.
Having topped the times during the second free practice session, the Speedworks driver emerged as the closest rival to the factory MG pair of Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff in what proved to be a closely fought qualifying session: less than a second covered the top 20 drivers.
Bettering his time from practice, Dave’s third on the grid was his best qualifying result of the campaign to date. “The MGs are always quick in qualifying so I’m pleased to be ‘best of the rest’ behind them,” said Newsham. “I didn’t know what to expect from the session as we were quick in practice at Rockingham, but then others were able to pull out more time in qualifying. That didn’t happen this time around. We might not have had to pace to match the MGs, but we have good race pace in the Toyota and I’m confident for tomorrow.”
Behind Dave, Dynojet’s Frank Wrathall posted fifth-best time after a drama-filled session, with the Lancashire racer forced to fight back after losing all his lap times for failing a ride height test mid-way through the session. Running in P4 when the penalty was handed out, Frank was able to return to the circuit to secure a place on the third row of the grid and remains confident for race day: “That was way more stressful than it needed to be,” he said. “It could have turned out to be a complete disaster after the penalty, and even though I wasn’t able to match my time when I went back out, it only ended up costing me one place on the grid.
“We’re not sure what happened to cause us to fail the ride height test but we recovered from it and it was nice to qualify well after some of the issues we’ve had recently. I think we’ll be in a good position tomorrow.”
Qualifying also went well for Ciceley Racing’s Adam Morgan, who will line up directly behind Dave and Frank in a line of Toyotas after posting the seventh best time, lapping just half a second away from pole. “The aim was to be in the top 10, so I’m happy with seventh,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll be able to avoid any issues at the start and stay out of trouble. I think I could have got more out of myself in the session, but I always race better than I qualify so I shouldn’t grumble with the result as we’re in a decent position for the first race of the weekend.”
Ollie Jackson, in the second of the Speedworks cars, was the only one of the Toyota quartet left disappointed, handling issues limiting him to 20th place on the grid. “I suffered with oversteer in the session and we’re not sure why,” said Ollie. “The car felt good on the first run but then, when I went back out, there was no rear-end grip. It’s disappointing as Dave showed the pace there was in the car but I’ll aim to move forwards in the races.”