A season’s best performance from Toyota independent Adam Morgan was a highlight of qualifying for the final meeting of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season at Brands Hatch.
In his final qualifying session at the wheel of his Ciceley Racing-run Avensis, Adam produced an impressive performance on track in tricky conditions, with rain overnight having left the circuit greasy off the racing line, which led to a myriad of incidents over the course of the day.
Having lapped strongly early in the session, a set of new front tyres proved to be key as he stormed to fifth on the grid, marking his best result of the 2013 season and matching his previous BTCC qualifying best from Snetterton last year.
“I’m chuffed to bits with P5,” he said afterwards. “My engineer told me there was more time in the car so we bolted on two new front tyres and I was able to get the lap in. It was quite a hairy one and I was on maximum attack; it was a case of just holding on. My aim for race day will be to try to get a top-five finish in race one and see where we go. A podium would be fantastic in the final rounds with the Toyota but there are people around me going for the championship and I have to be aware of that fact. The target has to be to maintain seventh in the overall championship and third in the Independents. If I can do that, I’ll be happy.”
Frank Wrathall will be the next of the Toyota drivers on the grid, securing eighth at the venue where he clinched his maiden BTCC victory in the corresponding meeting last year. Showing how close the times are among the front-runners, Frank was barely a tenth of a second away from the second row of the grid. “I could have been a bit higher, but it was so close in the times,” he says. “It’s a shame I’m on the back of the group fighting for third on the grid, but I can’t complain too much. It wasn’t an easy session and I was one of the drivers to have a spin as the circuit was still very greasy off the racing line. We need to see what the weather does tomorrow as the forecast isn’t great, but I’m desperate for a strong finish to salvage something from what has been a very difficult season.”
At Speedworks, the day started well with a 1-2 in the opening practice session, but qualifying proved to be a much more challenging affair. Dave Newsham was the quickest of the Speedworks Toyota pair with the 11th fastest time, although he had to survive a spin at Paddock Hill Bend and a nudge into the barriers at Stirlings during an action-packed session.
“On my first flying lap, I put a wheel off at Paddock Hill and then on my second lap, I made the same mistake and found myself going backwards up the track towards Druids, which ruined a set of tyres,” he said. “Later on I put a wheel off while avoiding Rob Collard when he had a spin and just tapped the barriers. I also lost time on a quick lap in traffic so it was just one of those sessions that I want to forget.”
Team-mate Ollie Jackson will start from 15th, his best starting slot since qualifying 12th at Oulton Park before the summer break, despite a troubled session on track. “It’s the highest I’ve been for a while and I was only half a second off Dave, so I can’t complain too much,” he says. “However, the car was quite ‘snatchy’ and it was hard to be consistent as a result. I had a few moments, as well, including a run off track at Sheene when I thought I was going to hit the wall. We’ll try to improve things for tomorrow.”