Media and fans alike had their very first glimpse of the brand new Vauxhall Vectra VXR as the defending 2007 champions took part in the 2008 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) media day at Rockingham, Northamptonshire.

VX Racing showed their title-credentials with the reigning BTCC Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi setting the third quickest time of the day. The Italian beat his own lap record from Rockingham last year by more than half a second, lapping the circuit in 1m24.581s.

Double ex-BTCC Champion Matt Neal finished the day in eighth place with a time of 1m25.022s, whilst team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole set a time of 1m25.574s, which saw him in 13th place. The first 14 cars were within one second of each other, showing the competitiveness that we would expect of the BTCC.

The media day began the official celebrations of the BTCC's 50th anniversary, whilst also marking the debut of the brand new 2008 cars. Vauxhall were involved in the celebrations, taking part in a number of drives with vintage Vauxhalls, alongside the first-ever BTCC Champion, Jack Sears.

The 2008 BTCC season kicks-off at Brands Hatch, Kent, in two weeks time.

Fabrizio Giovanardi #1

"Today we tried different set-ups. I had a little problem in the beginning and we lost time fixing it but the Vectra VXR ran well in the end.

"I feel confident for the start of the season, but with Jason Plato (SEAT Sport UK) not taking part today, we don't know where their strengths are."

Matt Neal #4

"We tested a few different front suspensions along with set-up changes. We learned a lot about the car today, and I think we will have a good package for the season opener at Brands Hatch."

Tom Onslow-Cole #10

"We managed to get quite a lot done today. A 13th-place doesn't reflect how much we did today, but we made some good progress and I know the car much better now. I'm confident we will be right up there this season."

-credit: vxracing