Frank Wrathall, Adam Morgan and Dave Newsham will each start the fourth round of the BTCC at the sharp end of the grid after a hard-fought battle at the East Midlands circuit, which is 10 miles from the Burnaston birthplace of the Avensis.
Dynojet Racing man Wrathall emerged as the best placed Toyota man, running at the sharp end of the times throughout the session as he looked to secure the second BTCC pole of his career. For a long spell the #11 Avensis was on top of the pile but defending champion Gordon Shedden (Honda) was able to better Frank’s time by 0.049secs. Second on the grid puts Wrathall in a strong position for race day as he seeks to build on his performance at Brands Hatch last month.
“Pole would have been nice, but it’s not the end of the world that Gordon beat me to it,” he said. “I was right on the limit for that lap and had to really push. I managed to pull it out of the bag and then when I tried to go quicker again, I overdrove a bit and it wasn’t worth making a mistake. We’ll have to see how race day goes but I think we’ll be all right. You never know what will happen in the BTCC but we have a good car and have put ourselves in a strong position.”
On the back of his impressive start to the season at Brands Hatch, Ciceley Racing driver Morgan was also on good form throughout the session as he maintained the pace he showed during the two free practice sessions earlier in the day. He bettered his practice times by half a second and Adam was able to split the two factory MGs on the grid to secure sixth.
“Comparing it to last year, sixth is a fantastic result,” he said. “I thought there might have been a bit more to come in that session but sixth is a good place to be for the first race. The team has given me a good car and the aim will be to stay out of trouble in race one and to score some solid points, and then we can look to build on that in races two and three.”
Having worked to improve the handling of his car between the two practice sessions, Speedworks man Newsham went into qualifying in confident mood but, despite posting the ninth quickest time, the Inverness-based racer admits he had hoped for more: “I’m really disappointed. We worked to improve the car and it felt great on track, but I just seemed to be down on power a little bit and we’re not sure why. We need to have a look and see why we lost a few tenths compared to practice.”
Team-mate Jackson was able to improve on his practice had hoped to secure a place higher than 14th: “The Toyota felt good but we just lacked a bit of speed,” he said. “We’ll look into it and hopefully we’ll get things sorted out for tomorrow.”