TCR UK – Rounds 1 & 2
Oulton Park – 16th – 18th April 2022
Chris Smiley has signalled his intentions ahead of the two races scheduled to take place at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, by putting the Restart Racing Honda Civic Type R FK7 TCR on pole position in today’s Qualifying session.
However, former BTCC driver Smiley didn’t have it all his own way, in what was a fast and frantic thirty minutes around the Cheshire circuit’s International layout. He finished the session just 0.222 seconds ahead of Isaac Smith in his Race Car Consultants VW Golf GTi TCR, who was, in turn, a slender 0.338 seconds ahead of Bruce Winfield in his Area Motorsport-run CUPRA TCR.
The first half of the session saw JamSport stablemates Max Hart and Adam Shepherd – who makes his TCR UK debut this year – trading fastest times, both driving Hyundai i30N TCRs.
They were soon joined at the top by last year’s champion Lewis Kent, who set an early banker lap that was later deleted due to exceeding track limits, only to go fastest on the next time of trying driving his new-for-this-year Essex & Kent Motorsport-run Hyundai Veloster N TCR.
During the first ten minutes, places swapped back and forth, with Anthony Whorton-Eales, Rob Butler Andy Wilmot, Jack Depper, Darelle Wilson and Scott Sumpton all escalating up and down the top ten.
Smiley set out his stall moments later, going top ahead of Shepherd, then Kent, Hart and Butler. Smith then threw the cat amongst the pigeons as he topped the times, setting off a showdown between them both for the rest of the session.
Smiley ended the session fastest with a time of 1:42.741 with Isaac Smith the only other driver to go under the 1 minute 43 seconds benchmark, with a 1:42.963.
Next up was Winfield in third, followed by Max Hart who qualified just 0.179 seconds behind, whilst Kent lines up on Monday in fifth and Adam Shepherd sixth.
With WSC TCR rules applying this year, the top six drivers score points relevant to their qualifying positions and consequently, the fortunate few gain an early advantage.
Rob Butler lines up in seventh place in the JWB Motorsports with Maximum Networks Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR, ahead of Callum Newsham in his Power Maxed Racing CUPRA TCR.
Jess Hawkins will occupy ninth place on the grid for her first TCR UK race, with the Area Motorsport with FastR driver setting top ten times throughout the session. Bradley Kent completes the top ten in his Essex and Kent Motorsport Hyundai i30N TCR.
With his return to the Championship possible thanks to an eleventh-hour deal, driving his Power Maxed Racing CUPRA TCR Jac Constable had to settle for eleventh place, despite running as high as third early in the session. Bradley Hutchinson in his Audi RS3 LMS TCR, Anthony Whorton-Eales in the JamSport Racing Subaru Impreza TCR, Jack Depper in his Capture Motorsport VW Golf GTi TCR and Jamie Tonks in his Area Motorsport with FastR CUPRA TCR DSG completed the top fifteen.
Andy Wilmot ended the session in sixteenth place in his JamSport run Hyundai i30N TCR and in doing so becomes the highest-starting Goodyear Diamond Trophy contender for drivers aged over 40, whilst Matthew Wilson put the JWB Motorsport CUPRA Leon Competición in seventeenth place on its UK debut.
Scott Sumpton (Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai i30N TCR), 2021 Castle Combe race winner Darelle Wilson (DR Racing Vauxhall Astra TCR), Russel Joyce (Power Maxed Racing CUPRA TCR), Kieran Griffin (JWB Motorsport VW Golf GTi TCR), Steve Gales (Playerlands Audi RS3 LMS TCR), Simon Tomlinson (JamSport Racing CUPRA TCR) and Chris Wallis (Power Maxed Racing Hyundai i30N TCR) make up the remaining places.
Due to technical issues, Hugo Cook (Audi RS3 LMS TCR) did not complete a lap and will therefore start the first of Monday’s two races from the back of the grid.