Twenty three cars from the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid descended upon the Thruxton circuit in Hampshire to gain valuable data during the annual TOCA Support Test.
A combination of over a thousand laps were completed by teams during the test session which was split in two morning and afternoon sessions on Thursday.
Tom Chilton in his Team Shredded Racing with Motorbase Ford Focus RS topped the timesheets for the morning session as cars got to grips with the high speed blast around the Thruxton circuit.
Power Maxed TAG Racing contined their fantastic start to the season with Senna Proctor completing the second fastest time and Josh Cook the third fastest only 0.038s behind his team-mate.
Dan Cammish did most of the laps in the Halfords Yuasa Racing Honda after Matt Neal suffered from throttle issues in the Civic FK8. Dan ended the morning in fourth place followed by reigning champion Ashley Sutton who would have put the test to good use to get more knowledge about the Swindon engine in his Subaru Levorg GT.
The top fourteen positions were all covered by less than a second.
Speaking of his morning, Tom Chilton told btcc.net, “You’ve got the combination today where the track’s warm enough for the tyre to work well but it’s cool enough for the engine.
“I was pushing quite hard, and we’ll change the set up to see if there’s any more time to gain this afternoon.”
Ash Sutton channelled his 2017 form with the fastest time of whole day, setting a 1m15.717s which was two tenths faster than Chilton’s best in the morning.
With drivers getting confident and the track getting more rubbered in with the action over time, times tumbled and drivers improved on their morning times.
Mike Bushell surprised with the second fastest time after a late lap got him very close to the time set by Sutton. Third place went to Matt Neal who seemingly recovered from the issues he faced during the morning session.
The top seven times during this half of the test were all underneath the qualifying lap record set by Matt Neal last season.
Sutton was confident that this test has finally gotten the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing team caught up to the rest of the field in 2018, “We hadn’t done mileage prior to Season Launch at Donington Park, then Brands Hatch later that week but that was rained off.
“We’ve come to make up time on the others and we’ve achieved some key things and we hope some of those will carry over to Donington.”
It is worth noting that being fastest wasn’t too important this test day. Most teams focussed on working with the Dunlop SportMaxx tyres developed for the Thruxton circuit and also different chassis setups for the rest of the season.
The BTCC returns on the 28/29 April at Donington Park.