World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx took pole position for race one of the 2015 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch today, ahead of a trio of Team BMR drivers in the form of Aron Smith, Jason Plato, and Colin Tarkington, with Rob Collard rounding out the top five.
Traffic turned out to be an issue for most around the short configuration of the Brands circuit. Matt Neal experienced it early on during his runs in the new Honda Civic Type R, eventually getting in a lap which was three tenths off the pace set by Prialux in the WSR BMW. Meanwhile the two 888 MG’s were causing some early drama after Andrew Jordan took up a spot of rallycross going off the circuit at turn one, whilst his teammate Jack Goff stopped on track early on with a problem before making it back to the pits.
Whilst all this went on we saw Priaulx set his fastest lap on a 48.411 in clear air, just a couple of minutes before the session saw a red flag after the errant left front wheel off Martin Depper’s Honda Civic caused him to stop in a dangerous place on the circuit. In order for the marshals to recover the vehicle safety race control made everyone retreat to their garages, before we saw the session get back underway with 10 minutes left on the clock.
Most of the drivers took to the circuit led by the WSR BMW’s, with a couple of drivers including Gorden Shedden and Alex Martin leaning a bit too much on their tyres and running off the circuit down at turn one. Traffic also looked like it was still an issue with the drivers, however that didn’t stop Plato and Collard improving to P3 and P4, along with Smith getting into P11 and Dave Newsham into P11.
Newsham ultimately ended up in P14 behind Rob Austin who got his newly revamped Audi into P13, whilst Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan notably ended up in P11 and P10. Aron Smith meanwhile later went second fastest overall and Plato managed to leap ahead of Turkington to maintain P3.
His teammate however was looking like he was about to set a fastest lap, going purple in the first sector before hitting traffic later on in the lap which forced him to back off in the closing minutes of the session. Anyone else’s efforts to improve were spoiled after the Power Maxed Chevrolet of Josh Cook brought out the yellow flags at the last corner in the final seconds of the session after he crashed side-on into the tyre barriers. That prompted all of the drivers to take to the pits, signalling the end of the session.
With that we go into tomorrow with the top 19 cars separated by a second, in what looks to be the start of yet another action-packed season of British Touring Car action.
Image Credit: PSP Images