Rory Butcher planted the brand-new fourth-generation Ford Focus ST on pole position on its second outing in British Touring Car Championship qualifying at Brands Hatch.
The Scot, despite carrying 48kg of success ballast, was almost half a second clear of everyone on the first runs, and just managed to keep his nose in front as most of the other leading contenders improved later in the session.
“Did I feel I could have pole? Probably not,” said Motorbase Performance returnee Butcher. “We anticipated it could be quite difficult, carrying the ballast. But from the first lap of free practice we came to the realisation that it was handling well – from where we started on base set-up, the car was really strong straight out of the box.
“I gave it everything on that lap and it was great, and the car was super-balanced with the weight in.”
Butcher did put another set of Goodyear tyres on, but did not improve. “If I’m honest I didn’t want to take too much life out of them,” he said.
“I had such a gap that I was driving around in contact with the team, so if I needed to I could have gone for another flier. But I’d spent so much energy on that first one I don’t know whether I could have done it!”
To deepen the Motorbase joy, the team’s BTCC veteran Ollie Jackson briefly joined Butcher on the front row, and was only demoted by the Team Dynamics-run Honda Civic Type R of Dan Cammish.
Cammish is carrying 54kg of ballast, but has qualified on the front row for the second round in succession with a time 0.031 seconds adrift of that of Butcher, while Jackson’s final qualifying position of third is by far his best in the BTCC.
Free practice star Jake Hill joins Jackson on the second row, his time in his AmD-run old-spec MB Motorsport FK2 Honda falling just 0.055s short of Butcher’s pole lap. Hill did a subsequent lap within a tenth of pole, kicking up the dirt on the apex and exit of Sheene Curve – the time he lost at the end of that lap cost him pole, and he had the best theoretical laptime of the session.
Championship leader Colin Turkington lugged 60kg of ballast in his West Surrey Racing-run BMW 330i M Sport to fifth spot, with team-mate Tom Oliphant equalling his time to the thousandth as they share the third row.
Senna Proctor continued his competitive day with the Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai i30 to put himself seventh, and Tom Ingram placed eighth in the Speedworks Motorsport-run Toyota Corolla. Jake Cook put the best of the BTC Racing Hondas ninth, with team-mate Tom Chilton completing the top 10.
Donington race winner Ash Sutton was a hugely spectacular 14th in the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti – he set a lap good enough for ninth, only for it to be deleted for a track-limits offence.
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