Andrew Jordan today topped official testing at Rockingham in his NGTC Turbo powered Pirtek Vauxhall Vectra. Even though the BTCC has already visited the Corby circuit, with testing so limited many teams took advantage of today's track time and,...
Andrew Jordan today topped official testing at Rockingham in his NGTC Turbo powered Pirtek Vauxhall Vectra.
Even though the BTCC has already visited the Corby circuit, with testing so limited many teams took advantage of today's track time and, in the case of Triple 8, they used the time to test a BTCC rookie in the shape of Daniel Lloyd.
Jordan set the fastest time of the day in the morning, which was about half a second quicker than he managed in qualifying for the race back at the end of April where he qualified in 8th. Jordan said afterwards, "We came here with some set-up tweaks in mind, stuff we've never tried before, and they've transformed the car. The handling is phenomenal through the mid- high speed corners - we've got rid of the under steer on turn-in - and that bodes well for the BTCC's next round at Oulton Park as there are some similar sections there. The changes we've made also make the car kinder on its tyres. I'm delighted with today."
Quickest in the afternoon session was joint championship leader Jason Plato in his Silverline Chevrolet who finished just a mere 1000th of a second behind Jordan. Plato's team mate youngster Alex MacDowall was 5th quickest who continues to improve after his first BTCC podium last time out at Brands Hatch.
James Nash was the only other driver to dip under the 1.24 bracket to show his pace in the Vauxhall Vectra for triple 8, although he is yet to secure a top 5 finish. Nash has shown great pace by qualifying 6th at Rockingham and 3rd last time out at Brands Hatch, only to be denied a good weekend of points by opening collisions in both races.
In the other black Vectra was BTCC rookie Lloyd. Lloyd raced in the Clio cup and narrowly missed out on a victory at Rockingham with a puncture after leading the majority of the race.
This season he has been racing impressively in the states in the Skip Barber Mazda series and yet again the 18 year old impressed greatly in his first taste of a Touring Car finishing in 7th just 0.375s of Jordan's ultimate pace.
This season has so far turned into a year of musical cheers for Triple 8. Multiple Touring Car champion Fabrizio Giovanardi was brought back into the team, at late notice in a one race deal at Thruxton, alongside reigning Clio Cup Champion Phil Glew under the banner of Uniq Racing.
Yet even though Giovanardi won 2 of the opening 3 races Uniq decided against sponsorship for the season, saying in a statement the company based in the States was not ready for the level of interest they received following the event as they are just started expanding in the UK.
So Giovanardi was back out in the cold and in came Nash, also out was Glew despite being confirmed originally for the season.
Nash originally ran at Rockingham with Avatar sponsorship in a one off deal but ran in an all black Vectra at Brands Hatch, which he continued to do during the test. Apparently he has enough budget to run at least the next few meetings, and will run at Oulton.
It is still unclear whom or if there will be a second car out at Oulton Park in just over a week's time. Team Boss Ian Harrison earlier said on the air at Rockingham he hoped to get Glew back in the car and there was a possibility of Giovanardi returning as early as Oulton.
Though since then there has been no news on Glew and it was recently announced that Giovanardi would be racing in the Italian superstars championship.
Today Lloyd took part in the days testing with sponsorship on the car from TNT post; perhaps suggesting that this was more than just a test and after impressing it may not be a surprise to see the youngster from Huddersfield on the grid for Oulton.
Behind Nash was the other championship leader Matt Neal in his Team Dynamics prepared Honda Racing Civic.
Neal shared the single Civic with team mate Gordon Shedden, who wound up 8th, and James Thompson who was brought in to help with development work on the car.
Thompson last year drove the car after replacing Shedden after the opening rounds although he missed the last three race meetings of the year winning 3 races along the way. This season Thompson was meant to drive a Honda Accord run by Hartmann racing in both the DTC and ETCC but recently split from the team and is without a drive for the remainder of the year.
Sixth fastest was the first of the Team Aon Focus' of Tom Chilton. Chilton took the last two pole positions at both Rockingham and Brands but since then his LPG Focus has had a restrictor put on the Turbo.
There had been some whinging in the Paddock, particularly from Plato, over the unfair power advantage the LPG turbo powered Focus had over the rest of the field. Nonetheless series boss Alan Gow was quick to deny that's what caused the change by telling BTCC.net, "However, let me be absolutely clear; the decision on the LPG engine was made after logging and carefully analysing data from all its first nine races, then comparing that same data with those from other top cars - it was certainly not as a result of any team or driver complaining. Anyone who knows me will know very well that 'whinging' has absolutely zero effect on my decisions. It's worth remembering that, as all cars are fitted with our mandatory data-logger, only TOCA has the ability to fully download, compare and analyse the exact same performance data from every car and at any time. This is how we are able to carry out comprehensive performance evaluations, produce factual comparisons and to then make a sound decision based on quantifiable data."
In spite of the restrictor Arena Motorsport team boss Mike Earle is still confident of performance gains and said, "Obviously we do not welcome the reduction in restrictor size, but it is quite within the BTCC regulations for TOCA to do this, so we have to take it on the chin and deal with it. Whilst any change to our engines' specification and the resulting reduction in power will surely hurt us, I also feel that the engine is only one part of our overall package and we have worked incredibly hard to make all aspects of the package as strong as possible and will continue to do so. I said after Brands Hatch that I felt we were at about 75% of the cars' potential, and most of our expected gains will come from work on the chassis,"
The other Team Aon Ford Focus of Tom Onslow-Cole finished in 10th.
Fans favourite and currently 4th in the points Paul O'Neill was 11th for sunshine.co.uk although he was switching between both his and teammate's John George's Honda Integra's.
12th was Dave Pinkney in a second NGTC powered Vectra with the two final cars testing were the pair of Forster Motorsport BMW's. Although bottom of the pack, both BMW's showed better pace with Arthur Forster improving on his qualifying time by over half a second, to break into the 1.26's, with team mate Martin Depper behind Forster while he still gets used to the BMW but did bring out a red flag spinning into the gravel at Gracelands.
Although testing is very restricted many teams decided against testing at a circuit where they have already raced including WSR with team boss telling Autosport they did not feel the need to test at a circuit which they have already visited. In the same article he said that the team were closer to a deal to race reigning champion Colin Turkington saying he hoped he would be back in the car by the end of the month perhaps suggesting that a return for Croft was more likely than Oulton.
Next up for the BTCC is Oulton Park in Cheshire on the 5th/6th June so stay tuned to Motorsport.com for all the news prior to the race.