Ashley Sutton has taken pole for tomorrow’s first BTCC race at Croft but the session was overshadowed by a huge eleven car pile-up which has left three drivers in hospital and others chances of racing in doubt.
Luke Davenport damaged the sump of his car and spun. The oil dropped the lead to the following cars all spinning. Several made contact with Davenport, whose car ended up several crushed against the barriers. Aron Taylor-Smith and Jeff Smith’s cars were also hit several times after they came to rest causing significant damage.
Andrew Jordan’s car suffered heavy rear damage but he was able to drive back to the pits. Other cars involved were battered but their drivers were okay.
Davenport, Smith and Taylor-Smith were all extracted from their cars and transferred to hospital.
Because of the lengthy delay in clearing up the accident and repairing the track it was decided that qualifying would be abandoned after just nine minutes of running.
The cars of the three injured drivers have been withdrawn although it is unlikely that any of them could have been repaired even if their drivers were okay.
The stoppage left Ashley Sutton on pole despite crashing himself just after he set his best time. Colin Turkington was second with Mat Jackson in third. Reigning champion Shedden was third ahead of Josh Cook.
Cook is now in the MG after some driver “musical chairs” in the past week. First it was announced that Daniel Lloyd was leaving MG by mutual agreement. Lloyd joins Craft Bamboo in the international TCR series.
Josh Cook then left Maximum Motorsport to replace Lloyd at the team he drove for last year. This then left a vacancy at Maximum Motorsport which has been filled by Swedish driver Dennis Strandberg. Strandberg has previous raced to the team in the VW Cup. He also used to race in British GT4.
Jason Plato is next up on the grid, the team perhaps finally getting his pace issues sorted. Neal was next. Completing the top ten were the other two Subaru of Cole and Price. They were undoubtedly helped by the shortened session but it looks as though the entire team is now closer to front running pace.
Sutton’s thoughts were clearly elsewhere when he was quizzed on his pole;
“Yes, we’re on pole but my thoughts go straight to those involved in the accident. I was one of the first into the accident and had to witness everyone else being collected. I think Andrew Jordan was the first to the scene and myself and Colin Turkington were second and third and we got away with it. The boys will be working all night on our car to get it ready for tomorrow but it’s all about those who were caught up in it. Hopefully everyone can get back out on track but it’s all about them and thoughts go out to them.”
Turkington’s thoughts were also occupied by the crash;
That’s the fastest part of the circuit into Barcroft and it was very hard to see the oil on the track in the wet. You become a passenger. I got away with it just about and I’m pleased to be starting second. I got my lap in early and had a bit of fortune as well to get through unscathed. I just got through and no more – I don’t know how much was judgement and how much was luck. You’re keen to get something in the bank because the forecast was saying it could stop raining, when it would then become greasy and slow so you get a lap in. It’s one of those things. My strike rate here is really strong and it’s one of my best tracks so I’ll give it my best tomorrow and try and score highly.”
Mat Jackson also spoke about the crash involving his team mate;
“The first thing is making sure everyone’s okay and it’s never nice to see that. It’s never good whenever you get fluid down on track, and you can’t see it in the wet. It’s greasy through Barcroft anyway in the wet and if you’re off you’re a passenger. Hopefully everyone is okay. Third is great. We found a lot of time in the car. The pace we’ve shown is true pace and I think that we can carry that through tomorrow. From that side we’re happy but obviously we’ve got a lot of damage in the team and we hope that Luke (Davenport) is okay.”
The full session times can be found here
Tickets are available on the door at Croft with the first BTCC race starting at just after Midday. Before that there is a pitlane walkabout. ITV4 are also showing full live coverage of the day from 11:30am By Marc Waller