Pat Cranham, BTCC correspondent
Ollie Jackson became the first Dunlop MSA British Touring Car driver to take to the track in 2012 as he enjoyed his maiden test for AmD Tuning.com at the fastest circuit in the country, Thruxton.
This will mark Jackson’s first full season in the championship after competing in a Vauxhall Vectra for Triple 8 racing in the penultimate two rounds last year. Jackson got his first taste of the VW Golf that he will be competing in during two 55 minute sessions.
On the first session Jackson completed some early laps before spending the second half of the test in the pits. However, he completed plenty of laps in the second session where it looked like he completed a race simulation during the early part of the afternoon before it came to a slightly early halt due to a serious crash involving a Clio Cup car, which competes within the BTCC support race package. The driver was believed to be ok.
Considering we ran on old tyres and the temperatures are so low, my lap times were good.
Jackson was however more than satisfied with his first run in the car and said, “It was definitely a productive day and a good first outing in the Golf. I think the Vectra was much more of a shock with it being my first ever run in a touring car, but also because the Golf is far more predictable. It’s a pretty comfortable car and it turns more quickly because of its shorter wheelbase. Considering we ran on old tyres and the temperatures are so low, my lap times were good. I think the car’s straight line speed was comparable with the Vectra I drove last year, but it’s difficult to say for definite as I drove on different tracks with different top speeds.”
This will be the team’s third year competing in the BTCC but this will be the first year that the team has been able to put together a decent testing programme prior to the first race at Brands Hatch on April the 1st.
Shaun Hollamby, who drove the car during that first year and remains team manager, said after the test, “We’ve done quite a few laps with the car this afternoon and we’ll continue our running here tomorrow (Wednesday). Our main objective is simply to get Ollie settled in the car, although we’re also trying a few modifications we’ve made during the winter break to improve the car’s straight line speed – its biggest weakness in 2011. “This is the first time we’ve ever had a proper pre-season test programme and I think we’ll be in the best shape ever when we get to Brands Hatch’s opening round. We should hit the ground running. Reliability from the outset will be essential so we can take advantage of the bigger teams getting up to speed with new equipment during the first half of the year.”
As Hollamby mentioned, testing continues at the Hampshire circuit tomorrow morning where it is believed that AmD will be joined by Speedworks in their NGTC Toyota Avensis’ belonging to Tony Hughes and Adam Morgan, who will compete in his debut year as a prize from Ginetta for winning the Ginetta Supercup last year.
Many more teams are set to commence their testing programmes in the coming weeks including Thorney Motorsport who are set to test at Silverstone later in the week. Many teams are still yet to announce their season’s plans for 2012 and with the season drawing ever closer, be sure to stay tuned to Motorsport.com for all your BTCC news prior to the official media day on March the 19th.