Sam Tordoff was the early pace-setter from the first of two days of testing during the official Dunlop BTCC test held at Snetterton, leading a KX Momentum Racing 1-2 on Tuesday.
Tordoff and team-mate Jason Plato were the drivers to beat over the morning and afternoon sessions at the Norfolk circuit, the Leeds-based rookie coming out ahead of his more experienced team-mate by 0.272s, as the Triple Eight MG squad turned the most laps over the Tuesday also with over 160 tours of the 300 circuit to their name.
A total of 24 drivers set lap times over the day, both Tordoff and Plato setting their quickest times on the Dunlop SportMaxx soft tyre compound in the morning session, with Tordoff’s ultimately day-topping lap of 1m57.534s being 0.061s quicker than Frank Wrathall’s 2012 lap record.
Tordoff said: “It has been a really good day. We’ve worked through our programme and completed so many laps. Days like this are invaluable to me – as a rookie I haven’t had a full test day so I really enjoyed it. It’s always great to see your name at the top of the timesheets and in terms of productivity this has been one of my best days ever in motor sport. Hopefully my lap time can send a bit of a message out for when we come back here to race in August.”
Teams opted for mixed tyre strategies, Pirtek Racing one of those that plan to test the softer tyre compound tomorrow after title contender Andrew Jordan finished third over the day on the medium rubber compound, ending the day over eight tenths behind Tordoff. Jordan’s pace matched the MG drivers during the afternoon session crucially however, when Tordoff and Plato opted to run on the similar medium compound tyre.
Jordan was also joined by his father Mike Jordan for the day’s action, Jordan snr. finishing 13th overall in the second NGTC Eurotech Honda Civic, left vacant by Jeff Smith on the day.
One of the focal points of the day was the sterling maiden performance from Nick Tandy behind the wheel of a BTCC car, the Porsche British GT driver finishing the day fourth overall in an Airwaves/Motorbase Ford, 1.182s back from Tordoff after turning 35 laps in the NGTC Focus.
Croft star Colin Turkington finished a solid fifth at the end of the day, the eBay Motors BMW continuing to perform well, while the Northern Irishman set his time while running one of Dunlop’s 2014 prototype tyre compounds, Plato and Jordan also assisting the tyre manufacturer’s assesment of new compounds during the day.
Sixth place was a fantastic result for Jack Goff, the reigning Renault Clio Cup UK champion finishing just 1.652s off of Tordoff’s pace after 35 tours of the Snetterton circuit, finishing ahead of Team HARD stablemate Tom Onslow -Cole‘s Volkswagen Passat. The squad’s second Vauxhall Insignia was shared during the day by Robb Holland and Howard Fuller, Holland finishing two spots ahead of Fuller with 20th place.
Regular Motorbase Ford driver Mat Jackson‘s outing was not as clean as Tandy’s however, the 2008 series runner-up having to abandon his car which suffered a brief – but thankfully not harmful – fire after a suspected exhaust problem that resulted in a stoppage to proceedings. Jackson still ended the day 14th after 18 laps completed, while team-mate Aron Smith tested both his regular NGTC Motorbase Ford Focus, as well as their S2000 Addison Lee-backed Focus ST during the day.
The latter machine’s regular driver, Liam Griffin, had a strong day at the office meanwhile as he ended Tuesday with the fastest S2000-specification time in 18th, comfortably ahead of fellow Jack Sears Trophy Ford driver, David Nye.
One of the biggest stories prior to the test was the absence of driver, team and manufacturer championship leaders Honda, the Dynamics/Yuasa Racing team opting to miss the test, which also inconvieniently clashes with the Goodwood Festival Of Speed event for the squad, meaning there will be no sign of championship leader Matt Neal or reigning champion Gordon Shedden during tomorrow’s sessions either.
For full times from the day, see: http://www.tsl-timing.com/toca/2013/132841trg.pdf