–>Words & images by Chris Roberts/Widerviewphoto.com
After the mega interest shown at last weeks BTCC Media Day the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car championship (BTCC) got underway with testing and then qualifying on Saturday 30th March in freezing temperature and snow flurries.
|Andrew Jordan on a flyer|
The battle at the front was a continuation of the Honda & MG NGTC battle from 2012 with Jason Plato (MG KX Momentum Racing) driving a works MG6 battling with the three Honda Civics of champion Gordon Shedden & Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing) in the works Honda Civic along with privateer Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Racing) also in a Honda Civic.
Following that quartet there was a close battle between Colin Turkington, Rob Collard & Nick Foster (EBay Motors) driving the brand new BMW 125i M Sport, the Toyota Avensis’s of Dave Newsham (Speedworks Motorsport), Frank Wrathall (Dynojet) & Adam Morgan (Cicely Racing), the 2nd works MG6 driven by Sam Tordoff, Jeff Smith in the 2nd Pirtek Racing Honda Civic, Rob Austin (WIX Racing)in the Audi A4 and the local Kent based Motorbase team of Mat Jackson & Aron Smith driving the Ford Focus.
|Collard & Foster|
|Foster going for it|
The qualifying session started out in sunny conditions but was almost immediately red flagged after Turkington spun and was collected by debutant (& 2012 Clio cup champion) Jack Goff driving a Vauxhall Insignia for RCIB Insurance Racing, run by Tony Gilham’s Team Hard. Team.
After the delay to clear the track there was only a short window for quick times before another snow shower came over the circuit and stopped any improvements to the times.
|The new BMW 125i’s in action|
This left Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan on pole position, with champion Gordon Shedden second, double champion Jason Plato 3rd and Shedden’s team mate in 4th place. Tordoff, Newsham, Austin, J Smith, Foster and Morgan took the remaining positions in the top 10. Dynojet Racing’s Wrathall had his time disallowed due to a technical infringement.
With the weather getting snowy the track became damp meaning no improvements in the times.
|Lee Wood in action|
In the Jack Sears Trophy completion (for older S2000 cars) Lea Wood (Wheel Heaven/Houseman Racing) was quickest in 16th place overall.
The first of 3 races will take place on Sunday 31st March at the Kent circuit of Brands hatch (on the Indy circuit), just before midday with the remaining two races later that day.
One new innovation is the option of a softer compound that drivers can use in one of the three races (agreed after qualifying), which should spice up the racing as the softer Dunlop SportMaxx will initially be 1 second a lap quicker.