Pat Cranham, BTCC Correspondent
As well as the official unveiling of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Silverstone to the media, yesterday afternoon the circuit was opened to the public where the cars took to the track for the first time to compete in official testing.
With some of the cars not being completed until the early hours of the morning sadly not all took to the track, including the new MG, Frank Wrathall in his Dynojet Avensis and Daniel Welch in the Proton.
We’ll go to the opening round at Brands Hatch in two weeks feeling very confident...
There was however, a major shock at the top of the times with Dave Newsham for ES Racing setting the best lap. With the Next Generation Touring Cars still in the development stage this could be a perfect time for teams using proven S2000 chassis cars to take advantage, a point which Newsham hopes to benefit from in his second year within the series
“After an up and down 2011 that feels amazing but I’m now in a proven title-winning car and with a team which is 100 per cent behind me. We’ll go to the opening round at Brands Hatch in two weeks feeling very confident as we had a good test there as well last week. But this is only a pre-season test – while this gives everyone in the team a lift we have to be realistic. We don’t really know what everybody else was up to today, some of the more established names had problems and of course (Jason) Plato and the new MG team haven’t run at all yet.”
Despite still struggling and not completing as many laps as they would have liked, Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal were second and third. However Shedden brought out one of a handful of red flags caused by stopping on track, while Neal didn’t look comfortable and twice spun in a cloud of smoke at Brooklands as the team continued to get used to their new machinery.
Rob Collard gave an encouraging debut to the new turbo powered eBay Motors BMW placing 4th, with Andrew Jordan in 5th in his Pirtek Racing NGTC Civic. Rob Austin took 6th in his own prepared Audi A4 who shared the driving duties between newly announced driver Mark Hazell and last season’s second driver Chris Swanwick.
Tom Onslow-Cole in a second eBay Motors BMW was 7th as he returns to the team in which he first debuted with back in 2007. He was just ahead of the first Redstone Racing Ford Focus belonging to Aaron Smith. Chris James was 9th in the second ES Racing Vauxhall Vectra after the team worked miracles to repair the car following his big off last Thursday at Brands Hatch.
Despite causing one of the red flags for ending up in the gravel at the first corner Copse, Liam Griffin competing in his second BTCC looked a lot better and ended up 10th ahead of Jeff Smith who continues to get used to his brand new Pirtek Racing NGTC Civic.
Still less than a second off Newsham’s time was Ollie Jackson for Amdtuning.com who finished 12th in the VW Golf. He was just quicker than Nick Foster, who got the first taste of the new turbo powered eBay Motors BMW. Lea Wood completed the most laps as he continued to get used to his newly acquired Binz Racing Vauxhall Vectra’s.
The final two drivers to set a lap were Tony Gilham in his RCIB Insurance/ HARD Honda Civic and much fancied front runner Mat Jackson although they both suffered from cooling issues and steering problems respectively.
Also taking the track was John Thorne in his Thorney Motorsport Vauxhall Insignia and the two Speedworks Toyota Avensis’ of Adam Morgan and Tony Hughes. However all three didn’t have transponders in their cars and didn’t record any lap times.
See the full Silverstone media day and testing photo gallery here.