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British Touring Car Championship
Brands Hatch (GP) - Free Practice - 1/10/16

By MJP Media | 1 October 2016

MG Racing RCIB Insurance's Josh Cook tops the time sheets in free practice at Kent's Brands Hatch circuit. Mat Jackson ends both sessions 2nd fastest in the wet conditions.

Josh Cook topped the time sheet in both free practice sessions
Josh Cook topped the time sheet in both free practice sessions

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship arrived at Kent's Brands Hatch circuit for the finale of the 2016 season with no fewer than 8 drivers mathematically capable of lifting the coveted Drivers' Championship trophy. Sam Tordoff starts the weekend at the top of the standings on 278 points with defending champion Gordon Shedden 2nd just 11 points down on 267. Shedden's team-mate Matt Neal is just 2 points further adrift in 3rd place on 265 points with Rob Collard 4th on 261. With a possible 67 points available from the meeting, Mat Jackson, Andrew Jordan, Colin Turkington and Jason Plato complete the 'Super 8' title contenders.

The first free practice session got under way on a wet track with intermittent rain, making conditions very difficult for the drivers. Throughout the 40 minute session there was steady rain, light drizzle and bright sunshine - the unpredictability making drivers extremely cautious around the 2.43 mile GP circuit. Wet conditions do not generally provide much useful data for the teams and drivers however with more rain forecast for the rest of the day and the qualifying session due later this afternoon, the drivers were all keen to get laps under their belts.

Mat Jackson in front of championship rivals Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden
Mat Jackson in front of championship rivals Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden

With the track starting to dry, the best lap times were set in the latter part of the session which was ultimately headed by MG Racing RCIB Insurance's Josh Cook in his MG6GT with Mat Jackson 2nd fastest with his Motorbase Performance Ford Focus. Rob Austin ended the session 3rd fastest in the Handy Motorsport Toyota Avensis with the AmD Tuning.com Audi S3 of Ollie Jackson 4th. Tom Ingram and Michael Epps completed the top 6 with Jake Hill, Adam Morgan, Rob Collard and Jeff Smith rounding out the top 10.

The second practice session started on a damp but drying track, however it took only a few minutes before the rain came, once again making conditions treacherous with many drivers struggling for grip. The session was red-flagged twice due to Matt Simpson's Speedworks Motorsport Honda Civic Type getting stuck in the gravel traps, first at Paddock Hill and then at Druids. Another red-flag period was declared in the closing minutes of the session when Stewart Lines got stuck in the gravel trap at Paddock Hill, resulting in a frantic dash once the clock was restarted.

Current championship leader Sam Tordoff in his BMW 125i M Sport
Current championship leader Sam Tordoff in his BMW 125i M Sport

The session ended with Josh Cook once again topping the time sheet with Mat Jackson 2nd. Tom Ingram was 3rd fastest in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis with Gordon Shedden 4th in his Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type R. Aron Smith finished the session 5th fastest for BKR with Ashley Sutton 6th for MG Racing RCIB Insurance. Andrew Jordan, Adam Morgan, Colin Turkington and Michael Epps completed the top 10.

The next BTCC action from Brands Hatch is the qualifying session to determine the grid for the first of tomorrow's three title-deciding races. With the Drivers' Championship so close, the point earned for pole position could be vital for the title contenders.

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