David Robinson celebrated his maiden MINI CHALLENGE JCW pole position after dominating a tricky qualifying session on the Saturday that the DTM returned to Brands Hatch.

With the German touring car series ending a five-year sabbatical from the UK, the MINI CHALLENGE got to play a starring role on the support card, with a full grid of JCWs entertaining the fans.

Having come so close to pole last time out at Oulton Park, Robinson made no mistakes on the Kent venue’s Grand Prix loop, setting three times that would have been good enough for top spot.

From the minute I went out for practice the car has felt brilliant, and this track is just proper,” smiled Robinson. “I knew the laps were good, and I didn’t have much traffic to cope with either, so I could just concentrate on stringing a few good ones together, and that proved to be enough!

The JamSport team had a big task to get championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales out for qualifying after his car suffered a driveshaft failure during Saturday’s free practice session. AW-E repaid their efforts by setting the second-fastest time before a tyre failure through Westfield bend sent him spinning off, fortunately with no damage.

I can’t thank the team enough for even getting me out for quali,” said AW-E. “To be on the front row after all that is mega. I don’t know what happened with the tyre, I turned into Westfield and just got pitched off! Maybe I picked up some debris that led to it going, I’m not sure.”

Nathan Harrison was third fastest, ahead of Jordan Collard, who felt he simply didn’t hook up a good enough lap in a session that was halted when Calum King lost control of his JCW through Hawthorn corner and struck the barrier, bringing out a red flag. “I lost the back end and tried to correct it and then the front gripped up and spat me off,” said King, who emerged unscathed from his car and hopes to still be able to compete on Sunday.

Rob Smith was fifth fastest, but wasn’t happy with the brakes on his car. “We ran new pads and the bite just didn’t feel right, so we’ll have to sort that for tomorrow,” he said.

Lewis Brown will start sixth after a solid session with Jack Davidson seventh. Local racer Luke Reade will line up eighth ahead of Alex Morgan and James Gornall, who completed the top 10.