The Irishman came out on top in a bruising session which saw three cars wrecked in two separate red flag causing accidents and one driver taken to hospital.
The first incident came when Mike Bushell of AMD tuning collided with Simon Belcher as the former was leaving the pits. The two cars bounced off each other and hit the barriers at high speed bouncing off each other a second time before coming to a rest. Bushell was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg and Belcher was left shaken with a heavily damaged car. Bushell will undergo further checks on his condition once he arrives at hospital and there may be further updates on his condition.
The second incident came later in the session when Hunter Abbot’s Audi left the circuit at high speed just before church. The car had heavy damage and Hunter was left winded and shaken but appeared to climb from the car unaided.
Bushell obviously will take further part in the weekend but the teams are looking at Belcher and Abbott’s cars to see if they can be fixed in time for tomorrow’s races.
Dan Welch missed the qualifying session after his earlier shunt in practice two, at the time of writing it’s not been confirmed if he will take part in tomorrow’s races or not.
In between the dramatic incidents, we had a dramatic qualifying session with a number of drivers holding pole. Initially Gordon Shedden sat on pole before his time was beaten by first Adam Morgan’s Mercedes and then Newsham’s Power Maxed Chevrolet. All three of them then lost their fastest times due to track limits infringements.
So now Matt Neal was on pole but his time was then beaten by Smith who claimed pole with a 1:16.785. Shedden also beat his team mate before the end leaving the Honda’s in second and third on the grid. Joining Neal on the second row was Adam Morgan in his Wix Racing Mercedes with a time that was just 0.131 seconds off pole.
Behind him comes Andy Priaulx in the IHG Rewards Club BMW. Priaulx said he thought his car would be much better in the races and seems confident of having a successful sunday. Jason Plato’s BMR VW CC is alongside Priaulx. The former champion did well to make the top six after the setback of the earlier shunt and then having to miss the second session. He may well move up on Sunday assuming his car is back to 100%.
Jack Goff again beats his team mate Jordan. He lines up seventh with Jordan back in eleventh place. Josh Cook took eighth with his team mate Newsham suffering badly from losing his best times after the earlier track limits infringements. It dropped Newsham from a potential front row start all the way down to sixteenth place. He may be another driver to fight his way through the field on Sunday.
Turkington ends up ninth, behind both his quick team mates. He is unlikely to be happy with that result and will hope to make amends in the races. Rob Collard completed the top ten in his JCT600 Racing with Gardx BMW. He also lost his best times for track infringements as did team mate Tordoff who ended up twelfth. The rest of the top 15 was Martin Depper (Eurotech), Warren Scott (BMR), and Aiden Moffat. (Laser Tools racing.)
New Infiniti driver Martin Donnelly missed qualifying after a power steering problem. Sunday could see a much reduced grid and we will certainly be without Mike Bushell.
Tickets are available on the gate for tomorrow’s races with the first race underway at 12:12. The popular pitroad walkabout is first thing where you can meet the drivers so if you are coming to Thruxton it may be a good idea to arrive early. If not there will be full live coverage on ITV4.
Full qualifying results are available on TSL Timing. By Marc Waller