Series Snetterton test summary

"Unhappy" Giovanardi tops Snetterton test Fabrizio Giovanardi was far from happy even though he was fastest in Snetterton's rain-disrupted official HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship test today. Italian maestro Giovanardi, in his VX...

"Unhappy" Giovanardi tops Snetterton test

Fabrizio Giovanardi was far from happy even though he was fastest in Snetterton's rain-disrupted official HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship test today.

Italian maestro Giovanardi, in his VX Racing Vauxhall Vectra, set a best lap of 1m13.138s during the first session held this morning at the Norfolk circuit -- a time which would not be bettered all day. But it was almost matched later by James Thompson who emerged fastest during the afternoon session to go second overall with a lap in 1m13.156s in his Team Dynamics Honda Civic.

Third was VXR's Andrew Jordan, even though his Vectra required a change of engine, and fourth the current series leader Colin Turkington. However, his Team RAC squad was left with a hefty repair job after team-mate Stephen Jelley's spectacular crash in his BMW (see separate story). Fifth fastest, despite a spin at Russell chicane, was Airwaves BMW driver Robert Collard and sixth the man who until the most recent round at Croft had led the championship standings, VXR's Matt Neal.

The test acted as a precursor to Snetterton's BTCC race event in three weeks' time (Sunday 2 August) -- an event that will mark the start of the second half of the 2009 calendar.

Jelley's accident caused the test to be halted while several heavy rain showers also cost drivers further valuable track time.

Meanwhile, even though he ended the test on top, reigning champion Giovanardi told "I am not happy. We had quite a lot of heavy rain today which has meant we could not be on track and work through many things. Sure we know our car is fast with a good base set-up but the BMWs have become very fast so we need to try to find more and today we didn't have the chance. And at the end of the day my car has a gearbox problem also. It's actually not been the best test for us."

Thompson, meanwhile, said: "I'm really happy with our performance today, particularly as we've not yet tried a full qualifying set-up on the car -- which is proved by the fact we were able to put in a couple of sequences of consistently fast lap times. But the ambient temperature has not been so high today -- if it is warmer when we come back here then that could be a problem for us as it has been in recent rounds."

Elsewhere, there were dramas for a number of other runners. Although a fine seventh fastest in his Honda Integra, Paul O'Neill's test ended a couple of hours early when his car suffered engine failure. Harry Vaulkhard was also sidelined shortly before the end of the day when he damaged the sump of his Tempus Sport-run Chevrolet Lacetti over a kerb (the car actually that of RML's James Nash as his own continues to be repaired following its heavy crash at Croft).

John George later confessed "where haven't I been off" during a hair-raising time in his TH Motorsport/JAG Honda Integra while Martin Johnson briefly stopped out on track before his Boulevard Vauxhall Astra stuttered back to the pit lane on its final drops of fuel.

The BTCC teams now move to the Rockingham circuit in Northamptonshire next Monday (13 July) for another mid-season test.

Jelley survives major shunt

Stephen Jelley was today lucky to emerge unscathed from a high-speed crash at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk during official HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship testing.

Jelley's Team RAC BMW slammed sideways into the barriers after he lost control under braking at around 130mph for the daunting Riches Corner.

He told "It had just started to rain and I was hoping to experiment with a few different lines -- it would have been important as this place can be unpredictable, weather-wise.

"As I got to Riches I was moving from sixth gear down to fourth and maybe I just caught the white line on the edge of the track and I was a gonna.

"I thought I was going head-on into the barrier so tried steering it towards the gravel trap but that sent it sideways. I went in very hard on the driver's side and that's probably why I'm feeling pretty dazed after the impact.

"The worst thing though is I bit my tongue -- that's what hurt most. Above all, I'm pretty annoyed with myself. It's a silly thing to do, to crash on a test day. But now I just need to forget about it and look forward to the test day at Rockingham next Monday (13 July)."


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About this article
Series BTCC
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , James Thompson , Colin Turkington , Matt Neal , Robert Collard , John George , Andrew Jordan , Harry Vaulkhard , Martin Johnson , James Nash , Stephen Jelley