Speedworks Motorsport’s Tom Ingram topped the official BTCC media day test at Donington Park, leading a Toyota Avensis one-two ahead of Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin.
Ingram completed 55 laps on the way to a best time of 1.09.995 to pip Austin by 0.114, with the impressive Chris Smiley third fastest for BTC Racing in his Chevrolet Cruze.
Fourth fastest was Ciceley Racing’s Adam Morgan, who recovered from an earlier technical issue in his Mercedes A-Class to rack up 42 laps, with Eurotech Racing new boy Jack Goff in fifth in his Honda Civic Type-R.
Next up, Aiden Moffat made it two Mercedes in the top six ahead of the leading Team HARD Volkswagen CC of Mike Epps in seventh, with Tom Chilton an encouraging eighth in the new Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra. Rounding out the top 10 were the second BTC Racing Chevrolet of Dave Newsham, and the AmD Tuning Audi S3 of Ollie Jackson.
Although testing times are notoriously unreliable when judging the real pace of front-running teams, a number were conspicuous by their absence from the sharp end of the times.
Team Dynamics pair Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal were 11th and 14th respectively, while Team BMR’s Jason Plato, James Cole and Ash Sutton wound up in 17th, 19th and 25th, the latter troubled by mechanical gremlins.
West Surrey Racing trio Rob Collard, Colin Turkington and Andrew Jordan set the 12th, 13th and 21st fastest times respectively, while the highest number of laps went to Team Parker Racing’s Stephen Jelley – a mammoth 75 tours, 13 more than next man Rob Austin.
The first of four red flag stoppages came after 48 minutes when Motorbase Performance’s Luke Davenport beached his Ford Focus ST in the gravel at the Old Hairpin. The second was caused by a slow-moving Morgan cruising back to the pits with a technical issue in his Mercedes A-Class, and the third when Davenport’s team-mate Martin Depper had a gravelly moment and the track needed cleaning.
The fourth and final red flag was caused by Team HARD’s Will Burns, who went off and lost the front left wheel from his Volkswagen CC. He was nevertheless the fastest of the rookie drivers, setting the 20th fastest time and completing 54 laps.
Of the 32-strong field, only two drivers were missing. Josh Price didn’t get to run with his new Team BMR squad as only three Levorgs were at the circuit, while Eurotech Racing’s Jeff Smith sat out the session with a wrist injury.