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Árón Smith snatches pole in hectic qualifying

Árón Smith claimed a maiden British Touring Car Championship pole position at Thruxton in a chaotic qualifying session, beating the Honda duo of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal to pole.

In a session that was both frenetic and disjointed – with two red flags disrupting proceedings – Smith posted the fastest time of the session in the dying moments to deny the pair of Hondas a first pole of the season.

Only Jason Plato was able to register a representative time in the opening stages – a 1:17.507s – before the first red flag was shown, with Mike Bushell and Simon Belcher involved in a big crash at the start of the lap.

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As Bushell exited the pits, both he and Belcher appeared to misjudge one another with the former tapping Belcher’s rear, sending the Toyota Avensis into the air before the pair smashed into the barrier on the exit of Allard.

With both cars heavily damaged, Bushell has been taken to Southampton Hospital with a suspected broken left femur, although the AmD Tuning driver was conscious and responsive as he left the track.

With a substantial delay, the session finally restarted at 16:35 – the time at which it had been scheduled to finish – and times immediately started to tumble, with Neal and Shedden jumping straight to the top of the times with respective efforts of 1:17.125s and 1:17.189s.

The pair then went quicker on their second laps with Shedden going fastest, but as a second red flag was shown following a shunt for Hunter Abbott, the Scot’s time (along with those of Rob Collard, Sam Tordoff and Dave Newsham) was disallowed for exceeding track limits.

The second stoppage left seven minutes for drivers to improve their times, and Dave Newsham immediately made an impact by setting an identical time to Matt Neal before Adam Morgan went fastest with a 1:16.808s – although both he and Newsham had their efforts disallowed again for exceeding track limits.

It was then that Smith popped up to post the fastest time – a 1:16.785s – and with neither Honda driver able to respond, the Irishman secured his first pole in the championship.

Morgan ended the session in fourth with a second quick lap, ahead of Andy Priaulx in fifth. Plato finished the session in sixth, with Jack Goff leading the MG charge in seventh.

Josh Cook had another impressive run to eighth in his Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze, while Colin Turkington and Collard rounded out the top ten.

Martin Donnelly joined Dan Welch on the sidelines, after a power steering issue prevented him from running.

Round 7 of the season starts at 12:12 BST tomorrow.

Top times

1 40 Árón SMITH Team BMR Volkswagen CC 14 1:16.785
2 52 M Gordon SHEDDEN Honda Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R 13 1:16.805 0.020
3 25 M Matt NEAL Honda Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R 14 1:16.858 0.073
4 33 Adam MORGAN WIX Racing Mercedes Benz A-Class 15 1:16.916 0.131
5 111 C Andy PRIAULX Team IHG Rewards Club BMW 125i M Sport 15 1:17.117 0.332
6 99 Jason PLATO Team BMR Volkswagen CC 14 1:17.127 0.342
7 31 M Jack GOFF MG 888 Racing MG 6GT 14 1:17.213 0.428
8 66 Josh COOK Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze 13 1:17.308 0.523
9 1 Colin TURKINGTON Team BMR Volkswagen CC 15 1:17.327 0.542
10 6 C Rob COLLARD Team JCT600 with GardX BMW 125i M Sport 16 1:17.369 0.584
11 77 M Andrew JORDAN MG 888 Racing MG 6GT 13 1:17.400 0.615
12 7 C Sam TORDOFF Team JCT600 with GardX BMW 125i M Sport 15 1:17.460 0.675
13 30 Martin DEPPER Eurotech Racing Honda Civic 14 1:17.627 0.842
14 39 Warren SCOTT Team BMR Volkswagen CC 15 1:17.639 0.854
15 16 Aiden MOFFAT Laser Tools Racing Mercedes Benz A-Class 15 1:17.750 0.965

Complete session results

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