British Touring Car Championship
Thruxton - Free Practice - 7/5/16
Following the first two meetings of the season, the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship arrives at Thruxton in Hampshire for the third meeting of the year with Matt Neal at the top of the championship table. Neal's Halfords Yuasa Racing team-mate Gordon Shedden is just 5 points behind with Team IHG Rewards Club's Jack Goff and Team JCT600 Racing with GardX's Rob Collard close behind. Mat Jackson, Sam Tordoff, Aron Smith and Ashley Sutton are just a few points further down the order, demonstrating just how close the 2016 BTCC season is turning out to be.
With Thruxton being the fastest circuit on the BTCC calendar, Dunlop bring a special compound tyre for this meeting to cope with the exceptionally high loading which means that this is the only circuit on the calendar where the teams do not have to nominate a race to run the soft-option tyre - all teams run the special tyre for all three races. With Daniel Lloyd joining Eurotech Racing and Silverline Subaru BMR Racing doing a fantastic job to re-build James Cole's fire-damaged Levorg GT, it was a capacity 32-car line-up which took to the track for the first of the free practice sessions.
Andrew Jordan posted the fastest lap time in his Motorbase Performance Ford Focus with an average lap speed of 110.41 mph. Josh Cook was 2nd fastest in his MG Racing RCIB Insurance MG6GT, just 0.024 seconds behind Jordan. Colin Turkington retired his Silverline Subaru BMR Racing Levorg GT towards the end of the session but had already done enough to claim the 3rd fastest time. The session was red-flagged to recover the stricken WIX Racing Mercedes Benz A-Class of Adam Morgan and was subsequently restarted with 7 minutes on the clock. Jordan's team-mate Mat Jackson was 4th fastest with Rob Collard 5th and Tom Ingram 6th.
The cloudy sky from earlier in the day gave way to bright sunshine for the second free practice session as temperatures started to soar at the Hampshire circuit. It was the young drivers who showed the way with Tom Ingram topping the time sheets in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis ahead of Andrew Jordan in the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus. Aiden Moffat in the Laser Tools Racing Mercedes Benz A-Class put in a solid performance to end the session 3rd fastest ahead of Jack Goff in the Team IHG Rewards Club BMW 125i M Sport in 4th place and Ashley Sutton 5th in his MG Racing RCIB Insurance MG6GT. Adam Morgan completed the top 6.
The Halfords Yuasa Racing duo of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden appeared to struggle, being 11th and 12th in the first session and 18th and 20th in the second, however with teams running different preparation schedules in the practice sessions we should not jump to too many conclusions. A more accurate comparison can be taken from the qualifying session which is the next BTCC action from Thruxton later today. Along with pole position, the driver who tops the qualifying session time sheet also earns the first championship point of the weekend and every point counts in the battle for the BTCC Drivers' Championship.
Published 7 May 2016