Just as the qualifying session for round 22 of the championship got underway, torrential rain hit the Northamptonshire circuit, which runs around the inside of the unique-in-the-UK oval.
Shedden’s Halfords Yuasa Racing Civic Type-R quickly set a fastest time, ahead of the Motorbase Ford Focus of Matt Jackson and Silverline Subaru BMR duo Jason Plato and Colin Turkington.
However Plato was then one of several drivers to leave the track as the rain increased in force, accompanied by thunder and lightning, and the session was red flagged.
After 10 minutes the session resumed with 14 minutes left and the track drying. The Scots Honda driver was able to set a faster time and hold onto his second pole position of the season.
Shedden said that after he set his early time conditions worsened very quickly. “I nearly collected Jack Goff’s BMW who was spinning in front of me – it was definitely the right call to stop the session. Then the circuit improved dramatically late on and I set an even quicker one at the end.”
Jackson retained his second place, while the two Subarus were leap-frogged by the impressive young driver Josh Cook, setting the time in his MG6 with seconds of the session left.
The BMR Subaru team, already immersed in an ongoing war of words with BTCC organiser TOCA over the series’ engine equivalency rules, also had more work to do at the end of the session after Plato’s car suffered rear-end damage in a second off-track incident.
Shedden’s team-mate Matt Neal, currently holding second in the series, endured a frustrating session to finish up eighth, but his disappointment will have been eased by the struggles that befell the two BMWs either side of him in the table. Series leader Sam Tordoff, third-placed Rob Collard and their team-mate Jack Goff all suffered misfires as the session started and will start race one on Sunday at the back of the grid.
Three 16-lap races on Sunday could go a long way settling the destiny of the 2016 BTCC – check back to The Car Expert for a full report.
Dunlop MSA BTCC Qualifying – Rockingham:
1 Gordon Shedden, Honda Civic Type-R, 1m36.338s (72.49 mph)
2 Mat Jackson, Ford Focus +0.288s
3 Josh Cook, MG6, +0.638s
4 Jason Plato, Subaru Levorg GT, +0.705s
5 Colin Turkington, Subaru Levorg GT, +0.753s
6 Ash Sutton, MG6, +0.882s
7 Tom Ingram, Toyota Avensis, +1.237s
8 Matt Neal, Honda Civic Type-R, +1.242s
9 Adam Morgan, Mercedes A-Class +1.302s
10 Hunter Abbott, Chevrolet Cruze, +1.396s