The MG KX Momentum Racing squad made the strong start they hoped for in first practice at Snetterton, with Jason Plato leading team-mate Sam Tordoff as the BTCC field returned to action.
The MG duo exchanged laps as the second half of the 40-minute session began to approach, Tordoff initially the man on top before his more experienced team-mate fired in two laps that were enough to assert his authority as Plato topped the sessionwith a time of 1m57.870s.
The front-wheel drive cars took their time going for a rapid effort, Aron Smith taking Airwaves Racing to the top briefly in the opening laps of the session before Dave Newsham then beat the Ford man’s effort, Newsham returning to the circuit he won his maiden BTCC race at last season.
Tordoff then initiated MG’s stranglehold on Fp1 as he moved to the head of the timesheets ahead of Adam Morgan, the Toyota man showing signs of the the pace that saw him secure a personal-best qualifying result at the Norfolk circuit in 2012.
Plato then demoted his team-mate to second place as he set a 1m57.9s effort to go fastest with 20 minutes remaining, only for Tordoff to return the favour shortly afterwards. Minutes later Plato had gone back to the top with two strong laps that put the double champion quickest by 0.115s, an effort that would remain at the peak of the times until the chequered flag greeted the end of the session.
Andrew Jordan showed a late burst of pace to leap up to third place in the dying minutes of proceedings, trailing the MGs by over three tenths in the end, while Newsham also improved his time after 16 laps of the 300 circuit to put the Speedworks Toyota fourth as the clock ran out.
Morgan ended fifth for Ciceley Racing just half a second from Plato’s time, while a last-gasp lap from Smith promoted him from well outside the top 10 up into sixth position, the pair beating 2009 champion Colin Turkington who had to settle for seventh.
Reigning champion Gordon Shedden was next up in eighth after the Honda Yuasa Racing duo both appeared to struggle for pace in the early stages of the weekend as they bedded themselves in, Rob Austin and Mat Jackson rounding out the top 10.
Matt Neal meanwhile ended the session down in 11th place, the championship leader carrying the maximm 45kg of ballast as an unwanted burden for both today’s action and tomorrow’s opening race, while Jack Goff showed that his pace during July’s test at the same circuit was no fluke as he came just 0.018s from the three-time BTCC champion in 12th place.
Andy Neate‘s maiden practice session in his new IP Tech Race Chevrolet Cruze saw him finish 3.1s off the pace in 20th position, while Warren Scott had his first taste of the Team HARD Volkswagen Passat, the session being used as a shakedown for the new machine.
Lea Wood was the quickest of the S2000 cars meanwhile ahead of the returning Liam Griffin, while James Kaye finished third in class in the AmDTuning.com squad’s new Honda Civic as Joe Girling‘s absence sees just four Jack Sears Trophy entrants this weekend.
– FP2 gets underway at 12:00pm, and you can follow all the action here on thecheckeredflag.co.uk, and on Twitter through tcfBTCC.