Bradley Kent secured his maiden pole position in the Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR. Setting a 49.729 on a damp Brands Hatch Indy circuit, the youngster was 0.318 seconds faster than his nearest competitor in Goodyear Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK. His quick overall pace ensures he also set the second quickest time giving him pole for race three.
After topping Free Practice, Bradley Kent was eager to build upon his performance from earlier in the day quickly becoming the first driver to drop below the 51 second barrier. From there, the times tumbled, as the Essex & Kent Motorsport drivers set about occupying the provisional front row.
One driver eager to break up Bradley and Lewis Kent’s dominance was Bruce Winfield. The defending Milltek Civic Cup champion put in a 50.042 to challenge the Hyundai’s in his Cupra TCR DSG. He would not be the only Cupra in the top five as Jac Constable continued his form from Castle Combe.
Not happy to be bested to pole, Bradley Kent hit back, the 19-year-old becoming the first driver to reach the 49 second mark and edging the #37 by 0.318 seconds. It would be all the #44 could do, coming back inro the pits shortly afterwards to save his tyres as the skies continued to darken.
As rained threatened, few improvements could be made, thus locking Bradley Kent in for what would be his first pole position in this competition. Scoring victory at Castle Combe last time out, Kent has the momentum to challenge for the title and in the post-race interview spoke of consistency being the essential factor throughout the two days of racing.
Speaking after qualifying, Kent said;
“My team were telling me that I was a second quicker through sector one than anyone. So to qualify 0.3 seconds faster means I’m losing time in the second and third sectors. I could have gone quicker if I had nailed those sectors.
“The car is fantastic. It’s still on rails from Castle Combe, I think I’ve gradually now got the confidence in the car and it’s taken me a round to win and improve in myself, so I can’t think of anything better than to put it on pole straight after a race win. I’d love to get to Paddock Hill first, but even if I drop back I’m confident that I do have the pace to get back through people.”
Joining him on the front row would be Bruce Winfield. A maiden front-row start for him ensures that both drivers will have something to celebrate ahead of the opening race later today. No points are scored in qualifying though. A point not lost on the second row, as title leader Lewis Kent lines up third ahead of Maximum Motorsport’s Max Hart.
Another strong qualifying will give Constable plenty to work with as he starts the opening race as the fastest Power Maxed Car Care Racing driver. Out of the pits, both Mercedes A-Class drivers had been dicing on track, eager to use each other for slipstreaming. While this proved essential in their battle for a top ten start overall, on the time sheets the drivers could not be split either, with Darron Lewis starting as the best TCT car in sixth overall, just 0.120 seconds ahead of Toby Bearne.
Behind them, William Butler was the first car not to finish qualifying within a second of polesitter Kent as he edged out the Hyundai of Will Powell. Dan Kirby completed the top ten after a disappointing morning for the 35-year-old.
In a new car for this weekend Alex Kite makes a return after a spectacular one-off appearance at Castle Combe. Driving the iconic Vauxhall Astra TCR that picked up victory around the Wiltshire countryside, the #97 will be happy to have finished qualifying ahead of Daniel Wylie in the BMW 1 Class and Chris Wallis, stepping up to the Hyundai i30 after two rounds in the Volkswagen Racing Cup.
The action gets underway on Saturday 19th June with the first race at 14:55. All of the action, together with driver interviews and exclusive behind the scenes insights, will be live streamed on the Goodyear Touring Car Trophy and TCR UK Facebook pages and YouTube channel.