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Tom Chilton survives off to take Croft pole

Tom Chilton has taken pole position for the first of tomorrow’s races at Croft – despite going off into the barriers early in the session. His Team Aon mechanics faced a race against time to repair his car before Chilton went out towards the end of the session and set a record time. Gordon Shedden once again lines up in second, after missing out by less than a tenth of a second.

Click here for the full qualifying times.

After having earlier set the pace in the first free practice session, Chilton went into qualifying in a confident mood. Perhaps too confident as he locked up and went off early in the session. He was able to make it back to the pits, but his Ford Focus ST was in need of repairs before being able to continue. When he eventually went back out, Chilton lapped in 1:24.629 to take pole position.

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“Maximum points for trying hard today I think!” said Chilton. “I locked up but got out of it just in time. This is the closest qualifying of the year so far and I’m on pole; some of it is down to luck definitely, but I’m still chuffed to be back at the top. Now I’m really hoping for wins tomorrow.”

Gordon Shedden qualified second for the second meeting in a row, again losing out to a Team Aon machine. However the Scot is confident again going into the races and said “I know the car is fast and that I am fast. I have been on the front row of the starting grid more times than not this year and I have set a number of fastest laps. That shows it is all there.”

Starting from third is Rob Collard, who improved on his performances in practice to be clearly the fastest BMW racer. However Collard has never won at the North Yorskhire track and will be hoping to get another strong start tomorrow to be in contention.

Alex MacDowall was fourth fastest, whilst championship rivals Matt Neal and Jason Plato were next up with the fifth and sixth fastest times. Speaking after the session to, Plato was in a circumspect mood as he admitted that it was difficult carrying ballast around Croft. “This is the sort of circuit where success ballast does give you a bit of a kick in the teeth,” he said. “I’ve got it again for race one tomorrow and don’t expect to be able to make any progress. I think the best I can hope for is sixth and then for the weight to come off for race two.”

Tom Onslow-Cole was seventh fastest, having topped the time sheets early in the session. “I was quickest in Sector 1 and 3 but couldn’t get the best of the car in the second sector,” said the Team Aon driver. “We’re going to work on the race pace now and hope to sort things out for tomorrow’s races.”

James Nash set the 8th fastest time whilst Paul O’Neill, who had been third in the second practice session, could only manage ninth in qualifying. Completing the top ten was Andrew Jordan in his Pirtek Racing Vauxhall Vectra. Just behind him is another Vectra – with BTCC debutant Daniel Lloyd setting a very respectable 11th fastest time in his first ever qualifying session in the BTCC.

Team’s championship leaders Airwaves BMW had a qualifying session to forget, with drivers Mat Jackson and Steven Kane languishing down in 12th and 15th positions respectively.

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