JOSH PRICE SCORES POLE FOR MINI CHALLENGE DEBUT

Josh Price topped the times in his first qualifying session in the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE to snare pole position for both the first and last races he will contest at Snetterton this weekend.

The former BTCC racer makes his return to competition this weekend with EXCELR8 and wasted little time in getting up to speed when he topped the times during Friday testing.

With the prospect of rain in the air, the field headed out for qualifying aware of the need to get a quick lap in early and Price soon became the first driver to break the 2:04s barrier to hit the front.

A time of 2:03.265s would ultimately be good enough to snare top spot by just under half a second from team-mate Max Hall, with the arrival of rain mid-way through the session preventing anyone from making a late improvement.

Price’s second fastest lap was also good enough to ensure he will lead the field away in the first of the three Snetterton races later this afternoon, although he will not be part of the rescheduled Donington Park race, which takes place after lunch.

“That went better than I thought to be honest,” he said. “I was getting into it until it rained but I’m glad it went the way it did.

“I probably wouldn’t have been so high up if it had rained all the way through the session, but I maybe could have done with the track time in those conditions. I’ve not done a start in one of these before so that gives me a few hours to work it out if I’m going to be at the front!”

Hall’s second place finish put him in a strong position to build on his double win from Brands Hatch, although his second quickest time was only good enough for P6 for race one.

The EXCELR8 man did have a scare towards the end however when, having gone back out in the wet, he slid off the road and nosed into the tyres at turn one – albeit without causing any significant damage to his car.

“The car feels good but I just overestimated the grip that there was going into turn one,” he said. “Those few laps could be important later if it’s still raining as I know now not to go that quick into Riches, but I’m feeling confident that we can have another strong weekend and keep the momentum going.”

Third fastest in the session for his best performance of the season to date was Nelson King, who will start race one from the front row of the grid thanks to his second best time in the Laser Tools Racing entry, with defending champion Dan Zelos going fourth fastest – albeit a second behind Price’s best.

Zelos lines up in P3 for race one alongside Tom Ovenden, who set the fifth quickest lap when it came to the grid for the weekend finale.

Elsewhere in the session, Lewis Selby – currently second in the standings – was seventh quickest in the leading NAPA Racing UK car although there were problems for team-mate Jamie Osborne, who only managed one quick lap before the rain arrived.

As a result, he will be at the back of the JCW field for race one, ahead only of Marlo Cordell after the JamSport man failed to set any timed laps at all.

Poles in the JCW Sport class were shared between Albert Webster and Roan Lundy – with the latter putting in the Invitational entry running on sustainable development fuels at the front for the first time.

Webster set the best lap in the session for JRW Motorsport as he returns to action for the first time since his Donington Park accident, going four-tenths of a second quicker than Lundy was able to manage.

Lundy’s second best lap however will put him at the front for the first of the three Snetterton races, with Webster just behind.

“I can’t believe it,” Webster said. “We went out knowing we needed to get a lap in because the rain was coming and to be on pole is great. Donington knocked my confidence a little bit but I managed to get back up to speed during testing and the goal now is to push for a win.”

Points leader Dylan Hotchin was third quickest on the times ahead of Chris MacKenzie, with Ben Crossley and Cameron Richardson rounding out the field.

Richardson was unable to set a representative time during the session after suffering multiple spins when track conditions were at their best, leaving him at the back for both races.