Gordon Shedden has praised the TCR International Series package after taking a surprise pole position on his debut in the championship at the Dubai Autodrome today.
Deputising for Rob Huff at Leopard Racing whilst the former is on World Touring Car Championship duties at Macau, Shedden was nearly eliminated from the opening session after needing replacement brake discs.
However, the omission of the temporarily homologated Hyundai i30 pairing of Alain Menu and Gabriele Tarquini promoted the Scot into the final pole position shootout.
From thereon he set a fastest lap of 1:27.849 in the opening exchanges that would never be headed, with team-mate and championship favourite Jean-Karl Vernay joining him on the front row.
After a morning spent learning the intricacies of the Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR across two half-hour practice sessions, the three-time British Touring Car Championship winner took to the task at hand with aplomb.
Speaking after the conclusion of qualifying, Shedden praised the series, his competition and both the team and car for delivering an enjoyable experience.
He also underlined his commitment to fulfilling his duty as Vernay’s team-mate to help him secure the title, which is mathematically possible in the opening race tomorrow – scheduled for 06:50 GMT – should Vernay out-score M1RA’s Attila Tassi, who starts tenth.
“It took a lot of time this morning to understand the car, we struggled quite a bit with the set-up, so I wasn’t expecting at all to be on pole,” admitted Shedden.
“My first very good lap was at the end of Q1 and I went out quite early in Q2 to set up a time that was not beaten. Everything was new for me: the series, the car, the tyres and the team.
“Everything is quite different from what I am used to, but I am enjoying a lot this first TCR experience. The quality and the level of the series is very high, and the car is fun to drive.
“I am here to help the team and Jean-Karl, although he is very capable himself. I’m here to do the best job I can for them.”