Handy Motorsport‘s Rob Austin set the early pace in the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship free practice session at Donington Park.
The Toyota Avensis driver’s best effort of 1m10.113s was enough to beat Eurotech Racing‘s Jack Goff by a mere 0.031s, Austin having shone in March’s pre-season Media Day test at the same Leicester circuit.
Team HARD‘s Jake Hill was the initial pace-setter of the opening 40-minute session, but finished third overall and 0.124s adrift of Austin in a session that saw the top 17 cars separated by under a second.
Fourth place went to the Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis of Brands Hatch race winner, Tom Ingram, Colin Turkington best-placed of the West Surrey Racing BMWs in fifth.
Turkington finished less than two tenths of a second off the pace of Austin, while Team HARD‘s Michael Epps continued to impress with sixth in the second Team HARD Volkswagen CC.
Aiden Moffat ended the session seventh fastest in his Laser Tools-backed Mercedes A-Class, but had his first practice cut short after being black-flagged for consistently exceeding track limits.
BTC Racing shone thanks to Chris Smiley who took eighth position in the best of the Chevrolet Cruze machines, with Ciceley Racing’s Adam Morgan ninth and Ashley Sutton 10th in the best of the Team BMR Subaru Levorg GTs.
Reigning champion Gordon Shedden was fastest of the Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda Civic Type-Rs in 12th, Power Maxed Racing‘s Senna Proctor the only driver not to complete a lap.
Although not suffering the same fate as Moffat, Motorbase Performance’s Luke Davenport, BMW’s Andrew Jordan and Speedworks’ Tom Ingram were all given final warnings for exceeding track limits.
Photo: BTCC Media