TAYLOR SNATCHES MAIDEN TCR UK POLE AT CASTLE COMBE


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Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor secured pole position for the opening TCR UK race at Castle Combe, eclipsing championship leader Dan Lloyd by just 0.003s.

WestCoast Racing driver Lloyd had set the pace earlier on in the half-hour session, only to be denied in the latter stages from scoring a fourth consecutive pole position by Taylor’s impressive effort. Consolation for Lloyd is that he will start second in both of tomorrow’s races, with his second-best time ensuring a front-row start in the reverse-grid contest at the 1.85-mile Wiltshire circuit. Lloyd led a WestCoast Racing trio in front of Andreas Bäckman who heads the second row with sibling Jessica for company with a time within a second of Taylor’s benchmark.

Lewis Kent (Essex & Kent Motorsport) jumped from ninth to fifth in the second half of the session, with a time of 1:08.238, meaning the Brands Hatch podium finisher will start from the third row of the grid. Verizon Connect Racing’s Finlay Crocker was sixth, 1.265 seconds off pole position, ahead of the Maximum Motorsport CUPRAs of Carl Swift and Stewart Lines in seventh and eighth respectively. Derek Palmer (DPE Motorsport) was ninth in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta, with Darelle Wilson rounding out the top ten with a time he set before his session-ending incident. Due to his accident Wilson is set to start race two from reverse-grid pole, but his participation is looking uncertain after he sustained heavy damage after an off into the infield at Bobbies. The Alfa Romeo of Robert Gilmour was forced to miss the session after an earlier ECU problem.

Ollie Taylor (1st) said: “I didn’t actually think that was possible. Not to accept defeat – but I thought I’d given it all I had to give really. But looking at the sector analysis my fastest lap had none of my quickest sectors hooked up in it, so I just told myself to calm down and relax, go out and do a good warm-up on the tyres, get them warmed up nice and evenly and hook it up and deliver.

“I think I was overdriving to start off with, so I really concentrated on corner exits, getting good exits. I didn’t even think that was going to get pole! I was coming around the lap thinking ‘This is good I’m slowly gaining a bit of time’ halfway around the lap I was three tenths up and I thought at least I’ve made an effort of taking some time out of him [Dan Lloyd].

“Coming out of the last chicane I was five tenths up and I’m thinking I’m only six tenths down – get this around the last corner! And that was the best I’ve come round that last corner so far this weekend, crossed the line and was over the moon.”

Dan Lloyd (2nd) said: “We were trying to be too clever in that session. We knew there were ten cars out on the grid – there’s a reverse pole. So the theory was bang one lap in and then go slow-ish for one lap; you could then have pole for two races.

“And that’s what I did. I went out and I put a good lap in. Wasn’t perfect but it was good, I was quickest by seven tenths. And then I would have been front row for the second race. Then Ollie [Taylor] went out last minute and did a great time, and pipped me by three thousandths, which is frustrating. But lessons learnt – trying to be too clever – I am P2 for the second race, which is good, but in hindsight I would have liked to be pole anyway. I’ve still got really good pace so I’m not worried for tomorrow.”

Andreas Bäckman (3rd) said: “Considering the session with the red flag and everything it was a good result. I had hoped for a better time in qualifying but I made many mistakes during my runs but then in the last run I was quite good.

“Then in the last lap I got a bit blocked going into the last corner but I think third is still a good place to start for race one. But unfortunately I will be tenth for race two because I had the best second lap time, but anyway I think we have a good car to race with.”

Race one of the weekend at Castle Combe is scheduled to get underway at 12:55 tomorrow [15 July], with live streaming available via the TCR UK website and on Facebook, YouTube, Motor Trend On Demand and the online platform of motorsport.tv