Brands Hatch BTCC: Ingram heads opening practice despite stopping

Speedworks Motorsport's Tom Ingram finished the first practice session of the 2016 BTCC season at Brands Hatch on top.

As was to be expected, the first 10 minutes were in no way representative, as drivers got a feel for their new challengers in the first official session of 2016.

After the clock ticked into the second quarter of the session, Jake Hill, Jason Plato, Mat Jackson and Ollie Jackson swapped the top spot before the red flag came out for a stranded Ingram on the exit of Graham Hill Bend.

The session restarted with just over 20 minutes remaining, and the more representative times began to appear, with Josh Cook posting a 48.451 for Triple Eight Racing in the 23rd minute, just 0.040s slower than the pole time set by Andy Priaulx in 2015.

Cook's MG team-mate, rookie Ash Sutton, was also up on the pace with the 2015 Jack Sears Trophy winner before stopping on the exit of Graham Hill Bend, his car having to be towed back to the pitlane.

Meanwhile, the Team Dynamics pair of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden also posted strong times, with Shedden being the first driver to go under Priaulx's pole time from 12 months ago.

Ingram then continued his run of strong form in FP1 into 2016, taking the fastest time of 48.230 with 10 minutes left on the clock.

No-one could match the Speedworks Toyota Avensis, and Ingram would end the first official session of 2016 at the top of the timesheets.

Motorbase, arguably the in-form team of the latter part of 2015, did not enjoy the same pace at the start of 2016, with Andrew Jordan and Jackson only able to manage ninth and 12th respectively.

One of the stories of the off season was the introduction of four new manufacturer-backed Team BMR Subaru Levorgs, built in a race against time, with only 87 days from the contracts being signed to the first practice session of the year.

None of the cars had done any real running before the Brands Hatch weekend, so the opening practice was effectively a shakedown for the team.

Colin Turkington ended the session as the fastest Subaru in 17th, nine tenths of a second behind Ingram's fastest lap, while James Cole, Plato and Warren Scott ending 25th, 27th and 31st respectively, although Plato only completed 17 laps and Scott seven.

Sutton was the top newcomer in FP1, a full eight tenths of a second ahead of the next best rookie, Matt Simpson, who ended the session 18th.

Chris Smiley was 24th, with Mark Howard and Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher ending in 28th and 29th.

Out of the 32 registered entries, 31 made in on track, with Team HARD's Mike Epps never heading out of the pitlane.

James Charman / TouringCarTimes

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About this article
Series BTCC
Event Brands Hatch
Track Brands Hatch
Article type Practice report