Aron Smith backed up his optimism from Brands Hatch by topping the opening practice session for the second British Touring Car Championship meeting at Donington Park on Saturday morning for BMR Racing.
The Irishman said after the season opener that the Leicester circuit would be more adequately suited to the Volkswagen Passat CC machine, and gave an indicator that it could prove just that as he topped the times with an effort of 1m10.041s in first practice.
Smith took the advantage midway through the 40-minute session from Honda Yuasa Racing‘s Gordon Shedden, and steadily improved his times in the final 10 minutes to eventually head the Scot by 0.174s.
Shedden headed the leaderboards for much of the session in the first of the Honda Civic Tourers, exchanging second position in the final moments of proceedings with the West Surrey Racing BMW 125i of Brands Hatch race three winner, Colin Turkington.
Matt Neal had a relatively quiet session for much of the action, but soon jumped himself up the order to fourth place by the end of the session to confirm Honda’s pace, Neal entering the meeting two points off the championship lead.
Marc Hynes impressed and ended as lead MG driver with fifth place for the Quantel Bifold Racing Team, ahead of the works MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save BTCC duo of Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff.
Jack Goff again showed top 10 pace to finish eighth in his Vauxhall Insignia, ahead of Alain Menu who also confirmed BMR’s speed in the second VW despite a pirouette at the final chicane in the closing seconds.
Adam Morgan rounded out the top 10 in the WIX Racing Mercedes ahead of James Cole (United Autosports), while reigning champion and current series leader Andrew Jordan ended 12th place in the heavily-laden Pirtek Racing Honda Civic.
Dan Welch‘s participation ensures a 31-car grid for the second round of the season, although he did not set a lap in the second Proton Gen-2.