Following the morning’s media day activities the track was opened up to the public for the first official test of the BTCC teams this year.
Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship drivers hit the track for the first time for the 2013 only official testing. At the end of the 4hr session, it was reigning Independent champion Andrew Jordan who topped the times in his Pirtek Racing Honda Civic. Pirtek Racing. The team has been one of the most active teams in private pre-season testing.
Jordan now heads into the season full of confidence and said, “It has been a really good day. We completed a lot of running and if qualifying for Brands Hatch was happening tomorrow, then we’d be really confident. We’re not overly concerned by the times at this stage of course, but I’m really happy with the changes we made to the car, which definitely improved things towards the end of the day.”
Third was reigning champion Gordon Shedden and he finished just ahead of the first Toyota Avensis belonging to Adam Morgan in the new Cicely Racing team. This will be Morgan’s second year in the series and, just like during testing, he showed great pace during 2012 but never turned that into a good result through a number of factors some self inflicted. Morgan now hopes that he has learnt from his mistakes last year and with a bit more luck will be able to challenge the front end of the grid on a more regular basis.
In 5th was another Toyota Avensis this time driven by Dave Newsham who makes the switch to NGTC spec and Speedworks following a fine season last year for ES Racing that included two outright wins.
Matt Neal was 6th in the second Honda Yuasa Racing while behind Tordoff was a third Avensis that of Frank Wrathall for Dynojet. Wrathall goes into the season not only full of confidence following his first series victory in the last race of 2012 but also for the first time being able to complete a pre-season as for the last two years his car not being ready until round 1.
Aron Smith was 9th in the first Airwaves Racing Ford Focus with his team mate Mat Jackson further down than expected back in 14th. Rounding off the top 10 was the first eBay Motors BMW 125i of returning BTCC champion Colin Turkington. Despite his car not being finished until part way through the 4hr session the former champion proved he had lost none of his speed as he finished ahead of his team mates Rob Collard and Nick Foster who shared the second BMW who were back in 16th and 17th.
There wasn’t however such good news for Ollie Jackson who got his first taste in the Speedworks Toyota Avensis following his late deal to join the team. The former AmD Tuning driver spun exiting the Old Hairpin damaging his Radiator and splitter. This seriously restricted his running and although he was able to briefly rejoin the session late on with a new radiator the team didn’t have a spare front splitter so couldn’t set a reprehensive time as a result.
Ollie Jackson wasn’t the only driver to have a mishap with Rob Austin spinning his Wix Racing Audi in the gravel while Liam Griffin also had an off at McLeans damaging the front of his Addison Lee S2000 Ford Focus although he did end up quickest of the S2000 runners in 18th.