Winter has not been kind this year for the usual pre-season testing for many series. The snow finally left the United Kingdom which allowed the British Touring Car Championship drivers and teams to take to the track.
Thankfully with the snow now past, several teams of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship have been able to press on with their 2013 preparations and at last get some track time at Brands Hatch, the place for the first race of the season that will occur in a little over two weeks.
The day was split into 3 one-hour sessions, which followed a 30-minute session first thing in the morning. The BTCC teams had to share a very overcrowded circuit with a wide variety of cars from a number of series. This meant that there was a mix of driver talents on display from various club-racing levels. As a result the red flag came out on an almost regular basis as the drivers struggled with the slippery conditions, meaning the teams were left frustrated at times and unable to string any real laps together. This was no more in evidence than at the start of the second session when the red flag came out 3 times in very quick succession.
Most eyes on the day were focused on the brand new eBay Motors West Surrey Racing prepared NGTC BMW 125i that appeared in full livery for the first time after its official launch the previous day. All 3 drivers, Rob Collard, Nick Foster and 2009 BTCC Champion Colin Turkington (returning to the series for the first time since taking the title), shared the driving duties in the flame spitting BMW. Each driver took part in a single hour session with Collard, who was driving the car for the first time, getting the extra 30-minutes in the morning. Following the test he admitted, “It’s a very positive start to the new season.”
The team were also expected to run Liam Griffin in his S2000 Ford Focus, who will compete in the Jack Sears Trophy under a different name to Airwaves Racing, but his car left on a Motorbase flatbed prior to the start of the test for unknown reasons. Griffin might also be joined in the second team by a 3rd NGTC Focus with team boss Dave Bartrum admitting that they are close to completing a further car and, should the deal materialise, all four cars will be run by the Motorbase Performance team as a single operation but under two names.
Rob Austin Racing were also in action with a single car driven by a former single-seater ace, Will Bratt. He will compete in his first full season following a part season in 2012. Rob Austin Racing were able to announce at this year’s annual Autosport show in January that, following a successful one off sponsorship during the final round of the championship, Wix Filters will return to become title sponsor of both cars for the coming season.
The final car on track was of BTCC newcomer Warren Scott, who will compete in an ex Special Tuning Racing S2000 Seat Leon in the Jack Sears Trophy. Very little is known of Scott and although no official announcement has been made, apart from him stating his intentions before Christmas to compete in the series, he looks set to run the car under his own team name of Team BMR Restart Racing having secured backing from the energy drink Restart. The car only took part in a single one hour session but appeared in a red and white livery, reminding many people of the Lukoil Seat that took part in last season’s World Touring Car Championship.