The gas powered Ford Focus of Team AON's Tom Chilton set the fastest time of yesterday's BTCC test at Snetterton after a rain disrupted day.
The test comes in the middle of the long mid season break and gives the teams a chance to see how new improvements are working in their conquest for the championship. With the day split into two sessions of 3 hours and a break of an hour in the middle.
The Team Dynamics Honda's of Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden did not take part in the test along with Tom Boardman with the Special Tuning UK team, Lea Wood and Dave Pinkney. A major talking point was that there was no third driver joining the Team Aon outfit, with funding issues apparently the cause. The team stated there is unlikely to be a third driver for the remainder of the season.
It certainly was a day of two halves with the morning session dry, bright and sunny, giving perfect track conditions. However, the rain came down over the lunch break and for the first hour or so of the second session leaving the track vey wet and the drivers in the garage until it eased.
The majority of the morning session was dominated by the two Tom's in the Fords. With Andy Jordan, fresh from his win in the last race at croft, setting quick times in the Pirtek Racing Vectra as well. The Vectra of James Nash was also setting some good times and by the end of the session was fourth fastest. There was a flurry of activity in the last 15 minutes which saw Jason Plato take the third quickest time, Paul O'Neil set an impressive second fastest and the other RML Chevrolet Cruz of Alex MacDowell set the fastest time. Only .016 of a second separated the top three and this meant the Tom Chilton had dropped to fifth and Tom Onslow-Cole to seventh with Jordan splitting the two.
The Fastest BMW was that of Mat Jackson in eighth with Team Airwaves and Rob Collard ninth for WSR. Steven Kane rounded out the top 10 in the Second Airwaves BMW.
It was a frustrating session for Shaun Hollamby in the AMD Milltek VW Golf. Having received their engine back from being tuned in Liechtenstein to increase their horsepower, the red flags were out to enable the Marshalls to tow the stricken Golf back to the pits after mechanical problems. He was over 2 seconds adrift at the end of the session.
During the break the rain clouds emerged and the rain came. With showers lasting well into session two, the drivers stayed in the garages in the hope it would ease. When the rain passed the track was left very wet, and only a few drivers chose to head out to get a bit of practice. After the rain came the sun, and this had helped to dry out the track quickly. There were a few damp patches to look out for though, which Alex MacDowell had found out with an off and so too did James Nash with a spin at the Esses.
The final 45 minutes saw a number of cars out on track with drivers keen to get out and set some quick times on the now dry tarmac. Although, only three drivers managed to improve their mornings times. Rob Collard and Steven Kane were two of them in the BMW's but only a very small improvement meant they weren't to progress up the timesheet.
It was Tom Chilton who set the fastest time which smashed his previous sessions best and sent him to the top of timing sheets with over half a seconds gap to Alex MacDowell in second.
The next round of the BTCC takes place at Snetterton on the weekend of 7th and 8th August. It looks set to be a great encounter.