Brad Kent became the first driver to claim pole position in the 2023 TCR UK Touring Car Championship after a last-gap effort saw him go fastest on the Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk.
23 drives took part in the session, with Jac Constable having to sit the entire session out after suffering an engine issue with his Rob Boston racing run Audi RS3 LMS TCR Gen2.
As the drivers used the early part of the 30 minute Qualifying session to warm up tyres and prepare for fast laps, it soon became clear that traffic would play a part during the session and that track position to begin a fast lap would be vital.
Alex Ley set the early pace in the session as he took his Area Motorsport with Daniel James Hyundai i30 N TCR to the top of the timing screen with an early 1 minute 58 second lap, however he was soon surpassed by Josh Files in the Area Motorsport Hyundai Elantra N TCR who moved the bar to the 1 minute 57 second mark.
As the session moved on, the times tumbled and it was soon a fight between Files, Ley and Brad Kent, who set an early lap time in the Essex Kent Hyundai Veloster N TCR which was later deleted due to track limits. Kent came back out fighting and put himself in the mix for the fight for pole position.
2022 TCR UK Champion Chris Smiley enjoyed good pace early on in the Restart Racing Honda Civic Type RFL5 TCR, making its global competition in TCR UK this weekend. Initially running in second place, just three hundredths of a second of Ley, the Honda driver was unable to extract more from the new TCR machine.
Callum Newsham, Scott Sumpton and Bruce Winfield were also early contenders inside the top ten along with Jenson Brickley and Lewi Brown. Brown’s efforts for a fast time were thwarted over and over as the Chameleon Motorsport driver encountered traffic on each attempt, showing more speed that his times told.
After contact between Brown’s CUPRA Leon Competición TCR and George Jaxon’s similar machine saw the JWB Motorsport with Trade Nation driver spun around at Murrays, which led to a red flag period as the car was recovered.
The session resumed with six minutes on the clock and that allowed for just enough time for drivers to go out and improve their times. Adam Shepherd began the bidding with a lap of 1:56.982 in his Area Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR, which would leave the Donington Park race winner in fourth place on the grid.
Josh Files went faster still with a 1:56.748 which put him on provisional pole, however Kent went fastest with a 1:56.670, securing pole position and taking the £1,000 cash reward that has been introduced for this year.
With Kent and Files on the front row, Bruce Winfield out his Area Motorsport Hyundai i30 N TCR in third place ahead of Shepherd, whilst Smiley will start in fifth pace ahead of Alex Ley. Lewis Brown will start in seventh place and will be joined on row four by Callum Newsham in his JH Racing Hyundai i30 N TCR. Jenson Brickley in his Jenson Brickley Racing CUPRA Leon Competición TCR starts from ninth place ahead of Joe Marshall-Birks in the second Rob Boston Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR.
Scott Sumpton will start the first race of the season from eleventh place in the second Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR ahead of Carl Boardley in the Zest Racecar Engineering CUPRA Leon Competición TCR, Oliver Cottam in the first Paul Sheard Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR Gen2, Bradley Hutchison in his Bond It with MPHR Audi RS3 LMS TCR and Dan Kirby in the second Zest Racecar Engineering entry.
Alistair Camp will start his first TCR UK race from sixteenth on the grid in the Pro Alloys Racing run Hyundai i30 N TCR ahead of Darron Lewis, Matthew Wilson, Darelle Wilson and debutant Rick Kerry in the Team AFM Racing CUPRA TCR. Garry Townsend (Audi), George Jaxon (CUPRA) and Steve Gales (Audi) complete the grid.
*UPDATE – Brad Kent was later excluded from Qualifying due to a technical infringement, meaning he will will now start at the back of the race one grid. Josh Files will now start from pole position.
With the grid walk taking place at 13:00, race one will begin tomorrow at 13:20 and will be livestreamed at the link below.