Qualifying for the fifth meeting of the British Touring Car Championship at Croft was abandoned after 11 cars were caught up in a high-speed accident caused by oil dropped on the wet track.
The crash happened with around eight minutes of the half-hour session complete. The Motorbase Ford Focus of Luke Davenport went straight on at Barwell corner and came to rest on the racing line. It appeared oil had been dropped on the sodden track surface as several other cars flew off the track at high speed.
MG driver Aron Taylor-Smith was briefly knocked unconscious, while marshals had to cut Jeff Smith and Davenport out of their cars – the Focus having been hit at least three times. Others suffering major damage included the BMW of Andrew Jordan and the pole-position holding Subaru Levorg of Ashley Sutton.
Davenport, Smith and Taylor-Smith were all taken to the medical centre and after a long delay it was decided the oil on the circuit would not allow qualifying to resume. “It was best to call the session,” said series head Alan Gow, after inspecting the track with current champion Gordon Shedden.
The grid for Sunday’s first race will be set from the times set before the session was stopped. This places the Subaru of Ashley Sutton on pole position, with Colin Turkington’s BMW alongside. The second row lines up Matt Jackson’s Ford alongside Shedden’s Honda, with the third row consisting of both MGs – team returnee Josh Cook ahead of Taylor-Smith.
The BTCC later confirmed that all three drivers taken to hospital had suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries. Taylor-Smith suffered a fracture to his left leg and concussion but was released the same evening. Both Davenport and Smith remained in intensive care, in serious but stable condition. Davenport was in an induced comas with multiple chest injuries, lung damage, broken right leg, broken pelvis, broken right arm and concussion. Smith has multiple chest injuries, extensive shoulder injuries, broken left arm and concussion.