The ballast free Honda Yuasa Racing driver clinched a time of 1:10:074 ahead of Frank Wrathall and Andrew Jordan, who both topped the time sheets previously in the session.
Colin Turkington in his eBay Motors BMW led the session early on, battling on track with KX Momentum’s Sam Tordoff in an improvement to the Irishman’s first qualifying session three weeks ago after an incident with Jack Goff put both drivers out with damage only a few minutes in.
A stream of drivers took provisional pole before Pirtek’s Andrew Jordan put in a quick lap time of 1.10.181, despite having 36 kilos of ballast on board his Honda Civic. Team mate Jeff Smith was also out on track, however a spin at the Old Hairpin put him down the order.
The second Honda driver Matt Neal who was sitting in seventh place with fifteen minutes remaining, had just been into the pits for a tyre change before heading back on track, where his previous lap times would now start to improve.
Rob Austin, who had spent his time during the three week break re-building Sherman, the Wix Racing Audi A4, after a heavy shunt involving Dave Newsham during the final race of the day at Brands Hatch, was running twentieth on track having opted for the wrong gear ratios prior to the session.
Meanwhile Gordon Shedden had sprung to the top of the times ahead of Jordan’s sister Honda, whilst in the closing stages all the former top runners were all fighting it out for glory.
No significant improvements were being made on track in the midfield section, however coming through the final chicane, Aron Smith made a mistake and was in the gravel trap. The red flag was brought out and with less than a minute of the session remaining, the chequered flag appeared.
Shedden held onto pole position ahead of Frank Wrathall and Andrew Jordan. Team mate Matt Neal and Jason Plato lines up ahead of Adam Morgan’s Cicely Racing Avensis and Sam Tordoff in the second MG.
Rob Austin in his newly rebuilt Audi ended the session in eighteenth despite an earlier spin which saw him sitting in the gravel trap for a time, while team mate Will Bratt was one step ahead in seventeenth.
Despite his last minute off, Aron Smith ended the session sixteenth for Airwaves Racing with team mate Mat Jackson in thirteenth. The pair will be looking to make up crucial places during tomorrow’s opening race.
With the sun shining, all eyes will be on Donington Park tomorrow to see who will be on top form. With no testing done on the new Dunlop soft tyres in warmer conditions, and with the threat of rain in the afternoon, we’re in for an interesting day.
Sunday Race Times:
Race One – 11:37
Race Two – 14:27
Race Three – 17:15
Qualifying Top Ten:
1) Gordon Shedden
2) Frank Wrathall
3) Andrew Jordan
4) Matt Neal
5) Jason Plato
6) Adam Morgan
7) Sam Tordoff
8) Colin Turkington
9) Dave Newhsam
10) Jeff Smith By Nikki Thompson