British Touring Car Championship
Brands Hatch (Indy) - Free Practice - 2/4/16
With the winter break now over, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship roared into action this morning at Brands Hatch in Kent for the start of the 2016 season. This year is certain to be an exciting one for the BTCC with a capacity 32 car grid, new teams, new drivers and with Subaru joining the series, a new manufacturer with their Levorg model.
The initial BTCC activity from the Kent circuit was the first of two free practice sessions and the first opportunity for the fans to see all the cars in the 2016 season on track together. First on track were the three Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type Rs of Matt Neal, Gordon Shedden and Andy Neate, rapidly followed by the rest of the field. The early part of the session saw most of the drivers going out then straight back to the pits so it was several minutes before meaningful lap times were set.
The session was red-flagged when Tom Ingram stopped at Paddock Hill however he managed to get his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis going again which was repaired quickly by the team. Rookie driver Ashley Sutton briefly topped the time sheet in his MG Racing RCIB Insurance MG6GT before Matt Neal went faster. The session ended with Tom Ingram topping the time sheet ahead of Matt Neal, Rob Collard, Ashley Sutton, Sam Tordoff and Gordon Shedden, all of whom posted lap times faster than last year's qualifying time. With Subaru Team BMR using the practice sessions to shake down their newly built cars, Colin Turkington was the fastest of the Levorgs in 17th place with team-mates James Cole and Jason Plato 25th and 27th respectively.
With all 32 cars taking to the track for the second free practice session it was triple BTCC Drivers' Champion Matt Neal who was fastest in the early part of the session until Tom Ingram put in a faster lap time to provisionally top the time sheet. As the session continued in the bright Kent sunshine, the lap times continued to fall with Aron Smith in the BKR Volkswagen CC joining the battle at the top.
Setting a new fastest lap of the day it was Sam Tordoff who topped the time sheet in his Team JCT600 with GardX BMW 125i M Sport ahead of Aron Smith. Tom Ingram ended the session 3rd fastest for Speedworks Motorsport with Gordon Shedden 4th for Halfords Yuasa Racing. Adam Morgan was 5th fastest in his WIX Racing Mercedes Benz A-Class with Matt Neal completing the top 6 places.
The next BTCC activity from Brands Hatch is the qualifying session to determine the grid for the first race tomorrow and with pole position, the opportunity to earn the first championship point of the 2016 season.
Published 2 April 2016