Seven days after Britain’s fastest men on two wheels hurtled round Knockhill’s sinuous 1.3-mile track, today the quickest tintop drivers are in Fife to do battle in the British Touring Car Championship tripleheader.
And while expectations were high that Dalgety Bay’s Gordon Shedden — a winner last time out at Oulton Park and a race director at the circuit — could grab pole position, the 29-year-old found himself outpaced by the Seat duo of Darren Turner and Jason Plato.
And not only did the Seat duo lock-out the front row of the grid for the third successive time this season, but Shedden found himself managing only 10th-quickest in his Team Halfords Honda.
“Disappointing,” the Scot, who won on home soil last season and bagged fastest lap in all three races en route to setting a new fastest lap, admitted yesterday. “We were quick, don’t get me wrong, but it just shows how tough this championship is.
“I was only 0.535secs slower than Darren’s pole position time, but this championship is so competitive that my 53.698s was only good enough for 10th.
“Sure, it means I’m going to have to do some fancy and aggressive overtaking moves if I’m to move through the pack, but I’m up for the challenge.
“Knockhill has a well deserved reputation for providing the closest and best touring car racing of the season and I’m in no doubts we’ll get more of the same tomorrow.”
Turner meanwhile, who started from pole at Knockhill last year as well, produced an astonishing display in his Leon TDI. The English driver completed only two flying laps early in the 30-minute qualifying session and then spent the rest of the time sitting in the pits. His quickest, 53.163secs, remained unbeaten.
“I don’t know what it is about Knockhill, but everything just seems to click for me here,” Turner admitted. “I love it here. Hopefully now I can turn pole position into a couple of victories.”
His team-mate and former champ Plato got within 0.013s and the Oxford-based racer, currently second in the championship, 44 points behind the Vauxhall of Italian Fabrizio Giovanardi, was equally content.
“Starting on the front row is perfect for me,” the Oxford-based racer explained, “and with Fabrizio being way back in sixth we’ve a chance of reducing the gap at the top of the championship.”
Behind the two Seats, Shedden’s Team Halfords team-mate Tom Chilton was third-quickest but the English racer will actually line-up ninth because of a six-place grid penalty incurred for causing a race-three pile-up at Oulton Park.
As a result the second row is filled by Tom Onslow-Cole and Matt Neal in their Vauxhalls with former Knockhill race instructor Colin Turkington’s Team RAC BMW and the third Vectra of defending champ and current leader Giovanardi sixth.
In the battle for the Seat Cupra Championship, Kirkcaldy’s Jonathan Adam took another significant step towards retaining his crown when he qualified on pole position for both today’s rounds.
“That’s the first part of the weekend negotiated successfully,” 23-year-old Adam, who clocked 54.037s in the first session and then went even faster, registering 53.798s in the second, admitted, “but we need to win both races tomorrow.
”This weekend’s hugely important for the championship. We started the season slowly simply because we only got the car four days before the opening round at Brands Hatch.
“We didn’t get the car sorted the way we wanted until we had a test at Rockingham. After that we went to Thruxton and won both races, but by them we were already playing catch-up in the championship.”
Since Thruxton, Adam has won six of the eight races — including both races at Oulton Park last time out —and lines up at Knockhill just 22 points behind leader Robert Lawson from Richmond with three rounds and six races remaining.
“We’ve got the momentum behind us now and we certainly have no intention of backing off at Knockhill,” Adam, the former Clio Cup champ, continued. “I’ve got a huge number of family members and sponsors coming this weekend as well and I’ve no intention of disappointing them.”
While England’s Sam Hancock grabbed pole position for the latest round of the Porsche Carrera Cup Championship, 21-year-old Rory Butcher from Kirkcaldy qualified a highly creditable seventh on his debut in the series, just 0.424s of Hancock’s time.