The championship's annual media launch day brought the class of BTCC 2012 together for the firs time and in a four test afternoon test session on the Silverstone National circuit Dave Newsham took the gathered media and fans by setting the fastest time early in the session.
“It's been awesome hasn't it, just awesome” said Inverness based Newsham. “We did a lap, one of the first flying laps and set the fastest time and after everyone else had been pounding around and we'd been sitting in the garage to go out and go even faster we seem to be able to turn it on whenever we like.”
“The car is just awesome, it was brilliant at the Brands Hatch test and it's been brilliant here too, it's just really quick”
The 2010 Clio Cup champion, who has shifted to Chris James' Team ES Racing over the winter, was the only man to run a lap averaging above 100mph with a lap time of 58.965 seconds, nearly four tenths clear of Gordon Shedden who was second fastest for Honda Yuasa Racing.
Shedden and teammate Matt Neal continued their testing with the brand new NGTC Honda Civic, running right up until the checkered flag fell, logging 86 laps between them despite Shedden causing one of the three brief red flag stoppages when he stopped on track with a technical problem.
Also in brand new Hondas were Pirtek Racing's Andrew Jordan and Jeff Smith, who set the sixth and eleventh best times of the day, while Matt Neal was third fastest, just 14 hundredths shy of Shedden's time.
Rob Collard slotted his newly turbocharged BMW into fourth for the WSR run Ebay Motors team. The team, thought by some to be outside contenders in the title fight ran two cars on the day shared between their three drivers. Nick Foster, returning for a sophomore season in the BTCC, got his first running in the 2012 car with new addition Tom Onslow–Cole was seventh fastest, one spot behind Rob Austin in the Audi A4. Chris Swanwick and Mark Hazell – the latter confirmed as a driver for Austin's team before the session – also ran during the test, but neither could beat Austin's mark.
Behind Onslow-Cole Aron Smith, Chris James and Liam Griffin rounded out the top ten times, Smith leading the way of the three Redline Racing (nee Airwaves Racing) drivers, though Mat Jackson's was limited to just 11 laps by steering issues.
Ollie Jackson (AmD Tuning.com), Lea Wood (BINZ Racing) and Tony Gilham (RCIB Insurance with HARD.) also took advantage of the session making up the total of 15 cars completed timed laps.
Tony Hughes, Adam Morgan, and John Thorne only ran brief shakedown laps. Dan Welch, Frank Wrathall and MG KX Momentum Racing pair Andy Neate and Jason Plato did not test.
The BTCC season begins on March 31-April 1 on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit.