Photo: PSP Images

Ley fastest as TCR UK takes to Snetterton’s 300 layout for first time

Area Motorsport’s Alex Ley was fastest in practice for TCR UK’s season opener at Snetterton in his Hyundai i30 N TCR.

The Saturday morning session marked the first time the series has used the track’s longer ‘300’ layout, having raced on the ‘200’ configuration last year.

Reigning champion Chris Smiley set the pace at first in his new Honda Civic Type R TCR, although the laps being set in the first half of the 15-minute session were not representative of the pace and Smiley at one point was fastest by over five seconds.

The unrelated Darelle and Matthew Wilson took turns in second place, and after Smiley headed back to the pits at the session’s halfway mark the latter Wilson went fastest with a 2:12.237 lap time.

Moments later Darelle Wilson set a 2:08.848, putting him 3.389s up on his namesake, with Smiley now in third and Oliver Cottam over 12.6s back in fourth place.

The next driver to lower the pace was Lewis Brown, setting a 2:03.150 in his Cupra León Competición with five minutes remaining.

At this point all 20 cars had been on track but only 10 had lap times next to their name. Ley was one of the latest to show his pace, and he set a 1:56.512 to go fastest by 6.638s in his Hyundai i20 N.

Brown improved to 2:00.245, as Darrelle Wilson kept third place with a 2:01.152 lap. Almost all of the drivers were improving their pace but there was still big disparities in the times being set, and when Brad Hutchinson went third fastest in his Audi RS3 LMS he was still 4.558s off the pace.

With just over a minute to go, Brown became only the second driver to post a sub-two minutes lap with a 1:58.101 effort. He improved again on his final lap, a 1:56.821 leaving him 0.309s behind Ley.

Hutchinson also went faster on his final lap but stayed in third, but Smiley returned to track and demoted Hutchinson to fourth as he took the chequered flag thanks to a 1:57.633 lap that made him the third driver in the field to break the two-minute barrier.

Of the 15 that did have a recorded pace in the session, there was a difference of 42.258s between the fastest and slowest driver. The drivers who went around the track several times but didn’t post any lap times were Carl Broadley, Garry Townsend, Callum Newsham, Alistair Camp and Jac Constable.

Qualifying starts at 14:15 local time (BST).