Verizon Connect Racing’s Ash Sutton secured pole position on his TCR UK début at Oulton Park with a supreme lap that was 0.567 seconds quicker than WestCoast Racing’s points leader Dan Lloyd.
Having topped Friday’s second test session and then Saturday morning’s Free Practice session, Sutton marked himself as the man to beat around the Oulton Park International circuit. The Honda Civic Type R driver went to the top of the times on his first full flying lap in the 30-minute qualifying session, posting a lap of 1 minute 42.348 seconds. That time put Sutton at the top by a comfortable margin over the TCR UK series points leader Lloyd, who left it until late in the session to secure a front-row grid position for the first race of the day, setting his best time with just two minutes to go.
Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor was third, just under eight tenths behind team-mate Sutton, having been set for a Pyro 1-2 until Lloyd’s Volkswagen separated the Hondas. Andreas Bäckman (WestCoast Racing) was fourth fastest in his Golf GTi, whilst DPE Motorsport’s Derek Palmer Jr secured a best qualifying result of the season in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta by going fifth.
Also taking a best qualifying result of the year was CUPRA driver Stewart Lines (Maximum Motorsport) in sixth, ahead of the third WestCoast Racing Volkswagen of Jessica Bäckman in seventh. Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport) was eighth quickest in his Hyundai, after his team had to work flat-out after the practice session to fix a problem with his front-left wheel hub, which saw him lose a wheel earlier in the day.
The second DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo of Robert Gilmour and Maximum Motorsport’s second CUPRA of Carl Swift rounded off the top ten, whilst the Maximum Motorsport-run Volkswagen of Tim Docker completed the times in 11th.
Swift secured the pole position for race two, which is set by the reversed second fastest times of each driver, with Sutton alongside him.
Ash Sutton (1st) said: “Firstly, thanks to Verizon Connect Racing for having me here this weekend. Finlay has opted out of this round and it’s meant that we can jump in. It was my first time in a TCR car yesterday and since then it’s been really good.
“We wanted to try and get pole and make an impact for everyone that’s involved – all of the sponsors, Team Pyro and it’s good to give the boys something. With the second [lap] you never know where you fare up; there’s a bit of head-scratching going on and I’m not quite sure where we’ve lined up for that second one.
“The idea [with the last lap] was to be on circuit circulating with the correct tyres on, so if someone did pip us we were ready to go for that last lap. I believed the job was done early on, early doors, so we could sit in the pitlane and enjoy the breeze through the car and not soaking up the temperature.
“The car is mega! Pyro Motorsport and Verizon Connect Racing have done a mega job on the set-up. It’s brilliant on a one lap when you need it in qualifying to deliver that ultimate lap and then come the race it seems to hold up well on the front tyres, so for me switching back from rear-wheel drive to front-wheel drive is going to be a learning curve on tyre management, but anything is a challenge and I like a challenge.
“My team-mate Ollie will also be in the mix and I’m looking forward to a bit of battling in race two.”
Race one of the day at Oulton Park is scheduled to get underway at 13:55 later on Saturday [4 August], with live streaming available via the TCR UK website and on Facebook, YouTube, Motor Trend On Demand and the online platform of motorsport.tv