MAX HALL SCORES MAIDEN POLE AT BRANDS HATCH

Max Hall produced a storming lap early on in qualifying at Brands Hatch to secure a first pole position in the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE.

The EXCELR8 rookie had endured a mixed start to his campaign at Donington Park two weeks ago, with contact early on in race one forcing him into retirement before he had to settle for eighth in race two.

The youngster would set his fastest lap in the session during the first qualifying runs, breaking the 51s mark to sit more than two-tenths of a second clear of defending champion Dan Zelos.

Whilst there was some expectation that quicker laps could follow later in the session when drivers headed out for their second runs, Hall’s early time would prove to be unbeatable as the teenager secured his spot at the front as the only driver who would lap in the 50s bracket.

“We managed to get the lap in early on when the tyres were at their peak and I’m delighted to be on pole,” he said. “I got a decent tow on my fastest lap and made the most of it to secure my place at the front.

“I didn’t expect to see such a big gap behind but the race will be a different story and it’s not going to be easy. It’s all about trying to get into Paddock Hill first and then seeing if we can get away…”

Whilst Hall was able to put in the quick lap that grabbed him pole for race three, his second fastest lap would be three-tenths of a second slower – which meant he will only start the opening race this afternoon from second on the grid.

Had it not been for losing a lap to track limits, Hall would have scored two poles but instead it is Zelos who will lead the field away for race one with his two best laps in the session having been identical, reflecting his consistency.

“It was a good session and we’ve shown we have good pace when the tyres are at their optimum,” he said. “The issue in the races is going to be how long the tyres hold on with the heat we have today, but everyone is going to be in the same boat.

“As far as we’re concerned, the car is dialled in and performing and I’ve just got to keep it on the black stuff and bring home the points.”

JamSport’s Marlo Cordell, looking to bounce back from two difficult races at Donington Park, was third quickest in the session and will head the second row for both races, with Nathan Edwards setting the fourth best lap, having been one of the few drivers to improve in the latter part of the session.

That edged him ahead of Donington winner Lewis Selby as the NAPA Racing UK drivers maintained his impressive pace, setting a best time that was just 0.021s quicker than team-mate Jamie Osborne.

Selby will however start race one from fourth place on the grid thanks to his second best time, ahead of Edwards and Dominic Wheatley.

For this afternoon’s opening race, both Bradley Gravett and Nelson King will take grid penalties carried over from Donington Park, leaving Gravett to start from 13th and King from 14th at the back of the JCW field.

The JCW Sport grid will be headed in both race one and race three by current points leader Dylan Hotchin, who managed to lap within half a second of the slowest JCW runner with his best lap in the session.

The JamSport driver was half a second clear of Chris MacKenzie – who switches into JCW Sport this weekend – with the same two drivers sharing the front row of the opening race.

“It’s a good result but that was really hard work,” Hotchin said. “I had to be brave and push more than I would have done previously, and I think I could only do that because I’ve had more time in the car.

“I’m confident we’ll be strong in the races and can fight for another win.”

Cameron Richardson and Ben Crossley will share the second row, with Richardson ahead for race three but Crossley ahead for race one, with the class completed by Scott Lear in the Invitational entry – who overcame a brake issue early on to get out on track for the final ten minutes.

Although his car is present this weekend, Albert Webster will have to wait to rejoin the grid until Snetterton having been required to take a three week break due to the concussion he suffered at Donington Park.