Jason Plato led the way in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship’s official media day test at Donington Park on Tuesday 24 March, leading his new team-mate, Colin Turkington.
Last year’s two title protagonists dueled for much of the four-hour session, reigning champion Turkington leading the way in the opening half of proceedings before BMR Racing team-mate Plato stole the advantage and ended top with a time of 1m10.249s, Turkington trailing by just 0.006s.
The Volkswagen CCs were tailed by a pair of impressive Mercedes A-Class machines, Scotland’s Aiden Moffat posting a mighty effort that proved enough for third fastest ahead of Ciceley Racing’s Adam Morgan in fourth.
Jack Goff shone again on his latest outing with new squad, Triple Eight, the MG driver ultimately finishing fifth although he admitted he was hampered by the changeable weather. A downpour at around 4pm brought a halt to much of the final hour of running, Goff unable to go for a run on the softer set of Dunlop tyres as a consequence.
Team-mate Andrew Jordan was next up in the Pirtek-liveried MG6, while Hunter Abbott impressed in the Rob Austin Racing Audi A4 with seventh.
Warren Scott made it three BMR VWs in the top eight, while Martin Depper was best Honda in ninth for Eurotech ahead of Sam Tordoff in the first of the West Surrey Racing BMWs.
Dave Newsham was 11th in the Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze, ahead of the first of Honda Yuasa Racing‘s new Civic Type-R machines, driven by Matt Neal. The triple champion’s team-mate, Gordon Shedden, could only finish 18th overall in the timing, the Scot also being the cause of one of two brief red flag periods when his Civic stopped out on track.
The second came shortly afterwards as Kieran Gallagher‘s Team HARD Toyota Avensis stopped immediately on the restart, the issue initially suspected to be fuel pump related.
Neither Infiniti Q50 took to the track; Richard Hawken’s car was missing parts, while Derek Palmer Jr’s car was not at the circuit.
A familiar face took the role of an interloper in the session, Paul O’Neill venturing out for 22 laps in the WSR BMW 125i in place of the vacant Andy Priaulx, the latter still in France for European Le Mans Series testing.
A technical issue halted BMR’s fourth driver Aron Smith early in proceedings, while just one Welch Motorsport Proton Gen-2 ran for Andy Wilmot and Dan Welch. It’s running was then swiftly curtailed by engine troubles.
Topping the day, Plato said: “We had an issue which cost us about an hour today which is a little frustrating as we had a plan of things we’re trying to get though and it’s left us with a couple of questions on the set-up that aren’t 100 per cent answered.
“It was a good day though – the guys have had a tough six weeks and I think now it’s time to down tools, get everything ready and checked for Brands Hatch and make sure we don’t have any reliability issues. We’ll be on the pace at Brands – if we’re not quickest we’ll be there or thereabouts and I think we can win races.”
Full Media Day Test Results:
1. Jason Plato Team BMR Volkswagen CC 1m10.249s
2. Colin Turkington Team BMR Volkswagen CC 1m10.255s
3. Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Racing Mercedes Benz A-Class 1m10.300s
4. Adam Morgan WIX Racing Mercedes Benz A-Class 1m10.304s
5. Jack Goff MG 888 Racing MG 6T 1m10.380s
6. Andrew Jordan MG 888 Racing MG 6T 1m10.625s
7. Hunter Abbott Exocet AlcoSense Audi A4 1m10.794s
8. Warren Scott Team BMR Volkswagen CC 1m10.829s
9. Martin Depper Eurotech Racing Honda Civic 1m10.928s
10. Sam Tordoff Team JCT600 with GardX BMW 125i M Sport 1m10.985s
11. Dave Newsham Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1m11.099s
12. Matt Neal Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type-R 1m11.135s
13. Jeff Smith Eurotech Racing Honda Civic 1m11.252s
14. Rob Austin Exocet AlcoSense Audi A4 1m11.260s
15. Josh Cook Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze 1m11.289s
16. Robert Collard Team JCT600 with GardX BMW 125i M Sport 1m11.391s
17. Mike Bushell AmD Tuning.com Ford Focus 1m11.523s
18. Gordon Shedden Honda Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type-R 1m11.796s
19. Alex Martin Dextra Racing Ford Focus 1m12.308s
20. Simon Belcher Handy Motorsport Toyota Avensis 1m12.726s
21. Stewart Lines Houseman Racing Toyota Avensis 1m15.718s
22. Andy Wilmot Welch Motorsport Proton Gen-2 1sm16.040s
23. Tom Ingram Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis 1m21.949s
24. Aron Smith Team BMR Volkswagen CC 1m22.029s
Note: Paul O’Neill was 21st for WSR, but was substituting for Andy Priaulx.