The half-hour session started on a damp track but as it continued to dry the times improved seemingly with every minute.
Indeed there were more than 20 different changes for the top spot as the times tumbled. It all came down to who got it right on the final few laps when conditions were at their best while less than a second would ultimately cover the top 18…
Ciceley Motorsport’s Coates was able to pull out a stunning time of one minute, 04.804 seconds – enough to secure pole for the first of the weekend’s two races, to be held later this afternoon.
It was Coates’s second pole of the season and also ended Bushell’s recent run of five-in-a-row but the Team Pyro ace was at least second fastest ahead of team-mate Josh Price and chief title rival Ant Whorton-Eales (JamSport) who were third and fourth overall. Team Cooksport’s Lee Pattison and Pyro’s David Dickenson completed the top six.
On second fastest times which decide race two’s grid (to be held on Sunday and with live coverage on ITV4) Bushell was back on top for his tenth pole of 2016 ahead of Whorton-Eales, Coates, Price, BMR/Pyro's Senna Proctor and WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett.
CLICK HERE for Silverstone’s two starting grids as well as full qualifying times and sector and speed trap analysis.
Coates, third in the standings just ahead of Rivett and chasing leaders Bushell and Whorton-Eales for the title, commented: “Qualifying has never been my strong point – I always go better in the races – so I’m very happy to be able to add to the pole I got at Donington Park earlier in the year and also to be third for grid two. I’m really determined to take some points out of Mike and Ant here and keep up the pressure going to Brands Hatch.”
Bushell said: “That was mentally the toughest qualifying session I’ve ever known and near the end I was starting to panic a bit as we were only P8 for grid one but fortunately my last effort got me up there. I needed that as I can’t afford to gift anything to Ant or Max at this stage of the season.”
Elsewhere there were a number of other performances worth noting. For grid one Ciceley’s Ollie Pidgley qualified a best-ever seventh and James Colburn, returning after 18 months away, was a fine eighth for PP Motorsport. Meanwhile Ben Davis, enjoying a one-off outing with Pyro, and Finesse Motorsport’s Paul Streather, driving in pain after a nasty crash in Friday testing, achieved 15th and 19th respectively for the two grids…