COLIN TURKINGTON will start tomorrow’s opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race on pole position after qualifying fastest at Croft Circuit this afternoon.

Turkington, who is the current series leader after winning two of the three races at Oulton Park earlier this month, finished almost half-a-second clear of his rivals as he broke Croft’s qualifying track record.

The Northern Irishman was fastest in all three sectors as he qualified in 1:23.246, with his performance suggesting he will once again be the man to beat when the real action takes place tomorrow.

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Turkington’s BMW 125i M Sport was strong throughout qualifying, with the eBay Motors team set-up negating the effect of the “success ballast” he was forced to carry thanks to his fine displays this season.

Newcastle-born Jason Plato will start second on the grid as he looks to record another triumph on what he regards as his home track.

Plato drove his MG6 to within 0.37secs of Turkington’s time, and should be in the mix for a podium finish in tomorrow’s three BTCC races.

Gordon Shedden, who is second in the overall rankings, qualified third fastest, with his Honda Yuasa team-mate Matt Neal set to start alongside him on the second row of the grid.

Reigning BTCC champion Andrew Jordan finished fifth, with Rob Collard completing the line-up on the front three rows. Earlier, the opening race of the weekend saw Harrison Scott repel Ashley Sutton to claim victory in the Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship.

Sutton picked his way through the field to move within a car’s length of Scott, but the introduction of the safety car after Ricky Collard left the track at Tower effectively put an end to the contest at three-quarter distance.

Scott’s victory took him to the top of the overall series rankings, with Sutton finishing second and Argentinian Juan Rosso taking third.