- Carlin driver Lando Norris matches his Oulton Park and Croft form to lead the way in qualifying
- Norris to start Round 19 from the pole, Fortec’s Dan Ticktum on top spot for Round 21
KNOCKHILL 22 AUGUST, 2015 – Lando Norris, only fifth in yesterday’s pre-event testing at Knockhill, dug deep today to propel himself to pole position for this afternoon’s 19th round of the Ford EcoBoost-powered MSA Formula Championship. The Carlin driver found more than half a second from his Friday best to lap the 1.27-mile track in 49.626s and dislodge Fortec’s Dan Ticktum from top spot in the closing minutes of qualifying.
Ticktum had set the pace during the first half of the session before running was twice suspended to retrieve cars stranded in Knockhill’s unforgiving gravel traps. When the track went live once more, 15-year-old Norris was one of handful of drivers to improve their pace. Said Lando: “After yesterday it was going to be hard to get pole. We struggled a bit yesterday, mainly in the last sector of the track, but the pace in the first two sectors was always there. I put things together a bit better today – we worked quite hard last night trying to make the car better, and me a bit better, and it’s all paid off.”
Ticktum’s consolation is that he will start Sunday’s live-televised Round 21 from the pole, his second-best qualifying lap time being a hundredth better than that recorded by Norris.
Championship leader Ricky Collard (TRS Arden) will start both races from third on the grid; Ricky lost his best qualifying lap time after exceeding track limits. “I’m a bit disappointed, to be honest. Yesterday’s pace was really good and we’ve matched that, but everyone else has gone a little quicker today. But my race pace is good and I’m sure we can come through.”
Snetterton double winner Colton Herta was fourth quickest this morning for Carlin, just ahead of Collard’s TRS Arden team-mate Enaam Ahmed, for whom fifth on the grid is a season’s best performance. “I am driving the car a bit better,” said Enaam. “Since Snetterton I have made a step forward with my driving and I’m happy to have made the top five; hopefully we can have a good race from there.”
Local hero Sandy Mitchell qualified sixth fastest overall, his best result since his Thruxton poles, to make it three TRS Arden men in the top six. “I’m quite happy with that,” said the Forfar driver. “It’s my best for a while. We needed to take another step forward and I think we are getting there now.”
Now driving for Fortec, 15-year-old James Pull enjoyed his best qualifying since the start of the season, placing seventh with a hot lap towards the end of the session: “The red flags messed it up for me a bit. I went out again after that and discovered I’d punctured the left front tyre, so I had to stop again to change it, then just managed to get a lap in at the end.”
Sennan Fielding, baffled by handling problems in his JHR Developments car not present in testing yesterday, qualified eighth, ahead of JTR’s Dan Baybutt – his first time in the qualifying top 10 since Thruxton – and Carlin’s Petru Florescu. The red flags flew while the cars of Ollie Pidgley (Richardson Racing) and Tarun Reddy (Double R) were retrieved from gravel traps. Reddy set 13th best time and Pidgley 18th. Today’s race is due off at 1550.
Provisional qualifying times Knockhill 22 August 2015
Grid order for Round 19
1 Lando NORRIS / GBR / Carlin 49.626s
2 Daniel TICKTUM / GBR / Fortec 49.704s
3 Ricky COLLARD / GBR / TRS Arden 49.871s
4 Colton HERTA / USA / Carlin 49.966s
5 Enaam AHMED / GBR / TRS Arden 50.006s
6 Sandy MITCHELL / GBR / TRS Arden 50.020s
7 James PULL / GBR / Fortec 50.077s
8 Sennan FIELDING / GBR / JHR 50.134s
9 Daniel BAYBUTT / GBR / JTR 50.134s
10 Petru FLORESCU / ROU / Carlin 50.405s etc
Round 21 grid order (based on second-fastest times): Ticktum – Norris – Collard – Herta – Ahmed – Fielding – Mitchell – Baybutt – Pull – Josh Smith etc