It was already raining as the cars took to the track with all drivers trying to make sure they set an early lap time in case the conditions then were the best they were going to be.
It was Shedden on pole in the initial flurry of times although the time he set wasn’t actually his best of the session.
Mat Jackson then took second place with what would prove to be his best lap of the session with Plato and Turkington taking third and fourth at that stage. But then the rain got too heavy for the session to continue and all the cars returned to the pitlane were the mechanics became soaking wet as they tended to them.
Several of the cars needed gravel extracting from them after their drivers had gone off in the impossible conditions before the session was stopped. Even champions such as Plato and Neal found themselves bouncing through the gravel.
Ten minutes passed before officials said the conditions were suitable once more for racing.
Several drivers found they could improve their times but unfortunately for them so did Shedden as he set a time on his penultimate lap which couldn’t be beaten. Shedden described things afterwards;
It was okay for the first three laps and I was able to set a good time. It got worse out there very quickly and I nearly collected Jack Goff’s BMW who was spinning in front of me. It was definitely the right call to stop the session. Then the circuit improved dramatically late on and I set an even quicker one at the end, showing that the Honda Civic Type R is a great car in all conditions.”
Jackson held onto second despite not improving his time but a late charge by Josh Cook saw him take third on the grid in his manufacturer backed MG.
“It was good fun,” said Cook. “A mixed session but I couldn’t see anything at one point. I left it until right at the end and pushed at just the right time. Credit to the guys for turning the car around after a difficult few meetings.”
Plato improved his lap towards the end but Turkington was unable to find any more time but they remained fourth and fifth respectively. Turkington’s charge was not helped by contact with another car late in the session just when the track was at it’s best.
Ashley Sutton put the second MG into the top six but this was set on his first run rather than the period later in the session.
Tom Ingram took seventh for Speedworks in his Toyota with Matt Neal the best Honda in eighth. But Neal’s championship rivals, Tordoff and Collard of WSR (Team JCT600 with GardX) struggled and are close to the back of the grid. The team had engine issues with all three of their BMW’s and Goff’s sister car had the same issue leaving them with the 26th, 27th and 28th best times. They will all move all up a place due to a penalty for another driver, more on that later.
Championship contender Adam Morgan took ninth in his Wix Mercedes and Power Maxed Racing’s Hunter Abbott kept up his run of top ten qualifying performances with tenth. He’ll hope to have better luck this time.
Martin Depper was a delighted eleventh for Eurotech with team mate Jeff Smith in fifteenth.
Aiden Moffat was twelfth in his Laser Tools Racing Mercedes just ahead of Dave Newsham, who once again qualified in the front half of the field. This is likely to be his last appearance this season and he will hope to leave a good impression in the three races. Fourteenth was Andrew Jordan, not able to find the pace of his team mate Jackson.
Rob Austin had a wasted qualifying after taking the twenty third fastest time. An incident between him and Adam Morgan that took place at Knockhill was judged by the officals to be Austin’s fault. As it’s his third incident of the season, it counts as his “Third strike” and so he has to start from the back for tomorrow’s first race, promoting the seven cars behind him up one slot on the grid.
The first race tomorrow gets underway at at 11:37am but there is support race action on the track from around 9:30. With tomorrow’s weather forecast looking better and tickets on sale on the gate, it could be a great choice for a bank holiday outing if you don’t already have plans. If you are at home, ITV4 will have full coverage as usual and we will be reporting on all three races.
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Rockingham:
1 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing 1m36.338s (72.49 mph)
2 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.288s
3 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.638s
4 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.705s
5 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +0.753s
6 Ash SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.882s
7 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +1.237s
8 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.242s
9 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +1.302s
10 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +1.396s
11 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +1.959s
12 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1.969s
13 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +2.031s
14 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +2.062s
15 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +2.369s
16 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +2.375s
17 James COLE (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +2.508s
18 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +2.516s
19 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +2.539s
20 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com +2.685s
21 Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +2.979s
22 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing +3.091s
23 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +3.220s
24 Dan WELCH (GBR) Goodestone Racing +3.510s
25 Stewart LINES (GBR) Maximum Motorsport +3.650s
26 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +4.275s
27 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +4.695s
28 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +5.222s
29 Tony GILHAM (GBR) TLC/RCIB Insurance Racing +5.337s
30 Mark HOWARD (GBR) BKR +2.567s By Marc Waller