Jason Plato headed the timesheets for the first practice session at Brands Hatch today in a misty session that saw Matt Neal only manage 9 laps before pulling in to the garages.
With good weather expected all weekend the mist lingered at the Kent track as the cars headed out on track, including the new NGTC Toyota Avensis piloted by James Thompson.
Plato would finish the 40 minute session top of the times setting his fastest time on lap 23 of 24 with Honda’s Gordon Shedden just 0.082 seconds behind. Shedden’s team-mate and fellow title contender Matt Neal retired from the session after only 9 with the decision to sacrifice the session in a bid to change the set-up for later today after running an experimental front-end set-up.
Rob Collard had a strong session as he finished just 0.003 seconds ahead of Tom Onslow-Cole who’s 49.270s time was good enough for fourth place.
Tom Boardman showed impressive pace to finish the session in seventh place showing the reason why Brands Hatch ranks high in his favourites.
Debutante Sam Tordoff had a solid first run this weekend as he steps up from his usual drive in the Clio Cup to drive for Triple8 Racing as he finished the session just two places behind team-mate James Nash who ended up in thirteenth place. He admitted after the session that there has been a lot to take in and the quality of the driving in the BTCC was higher than the Clio Cup.
Shaun Hollamby was happy with his session after admitting that this weekend is the first time of the year he felt he could properly push the car as in previous races he has always been wary of keeping the car in one piece for the next race weekend.
James Thompson managed a total of 14 laps in the NGTC Toyota Avensis making it’s first public appearance this weekend in the two practice sessions. Thompson’s run almost ended early after a near-miss with Mat Jackson as the two entered Surtees, thankfully the two managed to avoid each other. Jackson was happy with his set-up admitting “The car feels good, BMW is always quick around here.”
Ben Collins aka ‘The Stig’ only managed a total of five laps in the session after surcoming to gearbox problems. “We broke the gearbox first thing,” admitted Collins. “We don’t know yet but hopefully I’ll get out in the second session.”
Elsewhere on track David Pinkney had an early end to his session after his Vauxhall stopped at Graham Hill Bend. Arthur Forster spun at Paddock Hill bend damaging his rear bumper in the process. Andy Neate wasn’t so lucky after spinning backwards in to the barriers at Clearways.
Photo credit: BTCC.net