Tom Ingram was quickest out of the blocks in the first free practice session of the season-opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship meeting at Brands Hatch.
The Speedworks Motorsport man lapped the shorter Indy circuit in a time of 48.164s, less than two tenths off his own lap record set in qualifying last season.
Ingram’s best was 0.117s quicker than closest rival, Rob Collard, who jumped up to second spot in the final 10 minutes in the Manufacturer-backed West Surrey Racing BMW 125i M-Sport.
“We’ve got a good balance in the car”, said Ingram. “Nobody’s shown their hand yet, so there’s still a lot to find.”
Collard’s Pirtek Racing-backed team-mate Andrew Jordan was third fastest, the top five rounded out by Adam Morgan‘s Ciceley Racing Mercedes A-Class and reigning champion Gordon Shedden (Honda).
Returning to WSR, double champion Colin Turkington was sixth quickest in the third BMW 1-Series, Ashley Sutton best of the Subaru Levorgs in seventh. Eurotech Racing‘s new recruit Jack Goff was next up, Aron Taylor-Smith (MG) and Rob Austin (Toyota) rounding out the top 10.
Tom Chilton was best of the Vauxhall Astras in 12th place on both his and the manufacturer’s return to BTCC, Will Burns finishing top rookie for Team HARD in 18th behind triple champion, Matt Neal.
The session was not without interruption however, red flags waved when Aiden Moffat‘s Mercedes beached itself in the gravel after an off at Clearways.