Priaulx bags BTCC pole at Knockhillposted in BTCC22 | 08 | 2015

    A FORTNIGHT AFTER enduring what he labelled "the worst racing weekend of my career", Fifer Gordon Shedden was again left contemplating what might have been at the end of qualifying for tomorrow's British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill.

    The 36-year-old from Dalgety Bay — who last time out arrived at Snetterton leading the championship by 10 points and left trailing by 32 and having slipped to third in the title race — saw his potential pole lap ruined today, ironically, by his Honda team-mate Matt Neal.

    Shedden, who had dominated the morning's opening two free practice sessions in his new Honda Civic Type R, had managed his tyres throughout the 30-minute qualifying session and was putting together a stonking lap.

    But having set fast times in the opening two sectors of the 1.27-mile undulating circuit, the session was red-flagged when Neal spun off going through Duffus Dip, eventually winding up in the gravel at Leslie's. Shedden, like the rest of the cars on-track, was forced to back-off and pit.

    When the session restarted, with less than five minutes remaining, he initially climbed to third, but was eventually relegated to fifth by the Ford of third-placed Mat Jackson and the BMW of fourth-placed Rob Collard. Both Jackson and Collard won races at Knockhill last year.

    "Yeh, it's disappointing because I know the car was capable of pole: we'd shown that in the earlier sessions," the 2012 BTCC champ admitted afterwards. "But it is what it is, and we just have to move on.

    "I'd hoped that after Snetterton perhaps Lady Luck would smile a bit more kindly on us, but apparently not. Fingers crossed she'll turn up tomorrow.

    "One thing's for sure, we're in for a heck of an opening race on Sunday. A win would definitely be fantastic, especially in front of the home crowd, but by primary goal is leaving hear with a good haul of championship points. I'll happily take a couple of podiums and a fourth or a fifth."

    And while three-times World Touring Car Championship winner Andy Priaulx will lead an all BMW front row, after clocking the day's fastest time of 51.671secs to pip Sam Tordoff by 0.152s, there was further disappointment for the top two in the fight for the BTCC crown.

    Double BTCC champ Colin Turkington — the 33-year-old from Portadown, who trails Jason Plato by 16 points and won twice last time out at Snetterton — could only manage ninth in his Volkswagen CC.

    Related: Palmer and Paras back Scots road safety initiative

    But there was worse news for the former Knockhill racing instructor's Team BMR team-mate Plato. The double BTCC champ, bidding to win at Knockhill for the first time since 2010, could only manage a distant 22nd.

    The fact the Oxfordshire racer — whose car is carrying 75kg of "success ballast" — was only 0.771secs off Priaulx's pole time merely highlighted how close the competition is in Britain's favourite motorsport series.

    The two other Scots in the field, Aiden Moffat from Dalkeith, and Lesmahagow's Derek Palmer — debuting his Support Our Paras Racing Infiniti at the track — start 11th and 23rd respectively.

    "This is my first time racing here since I was a 16-year-old in a Ford Fiesta," 28-year-old Palmer admitted, "so to be just 1.233secs off the pole time set by Andy shows just how much progress we've made in our debut year.

    "We're targeting a couple of top 20 finishes, and hopefully we can repeat what we did at Snetterton and sneak into the top 15."

    Related: Shedden targeting Knockhill points haul

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    Jim McGill


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