WestCoast Racing’s Andreas Bäckman capitalised on changeable conditions in Qualifying for the TCR UK Series at Croft to claim his maiden pole position – despite switching car for the event.
Having swapped to a Honda Civic for the weekend, after WestCoast Racing made a late decision to enter all three regular drivers into the event, Bäckman had to contend with changeable conditions in Qualifying in an unfamiliar car. The Swede timed his final qualifying lap to perfection, being one of the last to cross the line on a drying circuit to post a time which was over half a second faster than Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor.
The entire field started the session on wet tyres, but as a drying line emerged the lap times began to fall, with Bäckman initially improving to third before putting in the pole lap on his final attempt with just seconds left on the clock. Taylor ended up in second after completing just one flying lap in the session, 0.585 seconds shy of Bäckman’s pole time.
Maximum Motorsport’s Stewart Lines was a season-best third, the CUPRA driver capitalising on the conditions to secure a second row starting position despite having his best lap time disallowed for exceeding track limits. Championship leader Dan Lloyd, who had set the pace in both warm-up sessions and Free Practice earlier in the day, could only manage fourth in his WestCoast Racing Volkswagen, despite putting in a succession of fast laps towards the end of the session. However, due to a five-place grid penalty from the previous meeting, Lloyd will have to start Sunday’s opening race from the back of the grid.
Jessica Bäckman (WestCoast Racing) was fifth fastest in her Volkswagen, less than a tenth slower than her more experienced team-mate Lloyd and just over 1.1 seconds off the pace of her elder brother Andreas. Finlay Crocker (Verizon Connect Racing) overcame gear shift problems from earlier in the day to claim sixth in his Honda Civic Type R, ahead of the Hyundai of Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport) in seventh. Series returnee Darelle Wilson (DW Racing) completed the times in his Vauxhall Astra TCR, which ran with a repaired front splitter after damage picked up earlier in the day prevented the 29-year-old from taking to the circuit in free practice.
By posting just one flying lap time, Taylor secured pole position for the reversed-grid second race, which takes each driver’s second-fastest lap and reverses the top ten of those times. That gives the Pyro Motorsport driver the upper hand over title rival Lloyd in both of Sunday’s races, with the latter starting race two from seventh after his second-best time is reversed.
Andreas Bäckman (1st) said: “I’m very pleased. I didn’t really expect that because in the practice sessions I wasn’t one of the fastest drivers. Now in Qualifying I knew that on the last lap everyone on the track would be at their best, so I had to get everything together in one lap, and in all three sectors I got my best time in the end, and that was enough for pole, so I am really pleased to get everything together and maximise everything.
“I heard that there was one minute to go and so I knew it was my last lap, so I just gave it everything in all three sectors. I didn’t really think about being the last across the timing line, because I knew that everyone was going to get their best time at the end. The thing I thought about the most was getting all three sectors together in the end to get a good overall lap.
“The team made the call to change to slicks, and I thought it was still too wet for them. I think we have good pace in the dry and in the wet I have been struggling a bit today. The goal is definitely to win tomorrow!”
Race one at Croft is scheduled to get underway at 12:25 on Sunday 9 September, with live streaming available via the TCR UK website and on Facebook, YouTube, Motor Trend On Demand and the online platform of motorsport.tv