Coggan Back in Contention after Qualifying
Josh Coggan was unbeatable in the Donington Park sun, taking pole position for the DW Racing team. After a dismal Silverstone for the young star, Coggan was quick to prove he could be a front runner with all ballast removed, setting a best time 1min 42.926, 0.499 seconds ahead of the opposition.
Times quickly tumbled in the early stage of qualifying, with the track fully up to temperature in the afternoon sun. Rob Allum and Simon Walton led the early part of qualifying, as the cars started to reach their peak on the first set of tyres. Though with ten minutes to go, both were blown out of the water by Josh Coggan, the first driver into the 1 minute 42 second range, over half a second quicker than the existing benchmark.
Having set his best, Coggan soon came into the pits, confident his gap would not be bettered as the clock counted down the final five minutes. The Worksop driver would return back to the session for a single run in the final three minutes, but it would prove unnecessary as no-one could beat his earlier run.
Eventually joining him on the front row would be Mark Wakefield. The HSG Sport driver had started the session slightly behind the others, benefitting from his rivals rubbering in the track and quickly challenging the top three. As the flag fell, he brought his benchmark down to 1min 43.425, almost exactly half a second behind the untouchable Coggan.
Allum maintained his early session form, lining up third ahead the Walton pairing, with Simon ahead of son and championship contender Owen. Unfortunately for Simon, his run came to an end on only his fifth lap, coming to a stop out on circuit after he “ran out of talent” according to the Audi TT star. While fifth would not have been where Owen would have wanted to line up, he’ll be emboldened by the fact points leader Martin Depper could only manage ninth. There was one good story for the Depper family though, with son Jack the highest placed Hankook Trophy runner in sixth, just 1.4 seconds behind the polesitter.
It would be another Hankook Trophy competitor immediately behind as Russell Joyce lines up eighth for the PMR Racing Golf Mk7. The two would be split by Tony Prendergast in the JW Bird Scirocco. The Lowestoft driver has recently been proving himself as a team leader and will be determined to challenge for a second podium this season. Depper senior, who pitted before the flag, would be two seconds behind the polesitter, largely due to the weight he carried into the session, as Matt Evans rounded out the top ten.
Further back, there was an intense battle amongst the Hankook Trophy competitors, with Richard Gilbert coming out on top and collecting eleventh place, from Jeff Alden and SlideSports Mark Steel.
There was major issues for two of the front runners, with Lewis Smith and Ru Clarke lining up fourteenth and sixteenth, only split by Michael Jones, who had his own technical issues to deal with. For Smith, the Scirocco driver spent half of the session in the pits, with his team frantically looking for solutions under the bonnet. A similar situation befell Clarke, unable to even set a competitive time. The result is a blow for the 2018 vice-champion, who is making a return to the series this round.