OULTON PARK QUALIFYING REPORT
MINI CHALLENGE newcomer Jordan Collard will start Monday’s first JCW race at Oulton Park from pole position after taking a stunning maiden pole position.
Cheered on by his British Touring Car Championship racing father Rob and BMW Motorsport-backed brother Ricky, Jordan starred in a shortened qualifying session in Cheshire on Saturday.
The opening half of the session was lost to a lengthy safety car and eventual red flag after Ben Dimmack’s car suffered a failure that had to be cleaned up.
When the final eight minutes of running got back underway, Collard flew. He initially set a lap good enough for pole before being pinged back for straying too wide at Old Hall, but swiftly backed that up with another benchmark that was good enough for top spot.
Nathan Harrison was third. He added: “A third place start at this stage of the season is great. The track was quite tricky as it was really cold and tough to get heat into the tyres. But I reckon I can make some moves from row two.”
Paul O’Neill took fourth and confessed to “loving this little car”. David Robinson will start fifth ahead of Luke Reade and Calum King. Lewis Brown was eighth ahead of Joe Tanner and Ollie Pidgley.
One driver to suffer was Rob Smith. An Oulton Park specialist, Smith struggled with an unpredictable balance in his car after switching between soft and stiff suspension settings. He will start 11th.
Another guest BTCC star, Matt Neal, will start back in 20th after a driveshaft popped out early in the session.
“I tried my best to keep the tyres warm, but this car is so well put together that it felt great right from the first lap, and that’s a credit to the MINI UK VIP team,” said Collard.
“I never expected to get pole. Each lap I kept coming round expecting the pit board to show me lower, but it never happened. I’m made up, but now the hard work starts on Monday.”
Series returnee Ant Whorton-Eales snatched second place on the grid and was pleased. “I’m still learning, everything for this year came about so late that second is actually a great result,” said the former BTCC racer. “I always race better than I qualify, so I’ll be in the mix on Monday.”