BTC Racing’s Chris Smiley finished the annual TOCA test at Thruxton quickest. All the teams clocked up more valuable miles around the Hampshire circuit ahead of a double header at the UK’s fastest track later in the year.
Smiley told the BTCC website: “This morning was the first time I’d driven at this circuit in this car before and around real high speed corners.
“So, the first session was about trying not to cause any damage – driving the car to where I thought was safe. Despite losing the tyres towards the end, I was matching the times we were doing early on so that’s a good sign.
“This is a track that you have to treat with respect and in the second session we’d looked back through the data and got a feel of things and had a better idea of what we had to do.”
Rory Butcher had another productive session and was second quickest, just over a tenth of a second off Smiley’s fastest time. BMR’s Ashley Sutton topped the time sheets early on before slipping down the order and eventually finishing third. Aiden Moffat rounded out a positive day setting the fourth fastest time.
All three drivers were separated by less than a tenth in a closely fought afternoon session.
Butcher told the BTCC website: “We’re quick. It’s a really demanding circuit here and it takes a lot to hook up a qualifying run. It’s intense because it’s just so fast.
“We went through a few changes on the car and they were positive. Looking towards the Thruxton race weekend, we’re feeling strong. One change in particular has given me a lot more confidence and after five, six, seven lap runs we were hitting good pace.”
Colin Turkington set the fifth fastest time with the man who set the pace in the morning – Dan Cammish close behind in sixth.
Josh Cook improved on his 13th fastest time this morning by ending the afternoon in seventh with Adam Morgan not far behind in eighth.
Sam Tordoff was another to improve in the afternoon, setting the ninth quickest time with Tom Ingram rounding out the top-ten.
Andrew Jordan was the second fastest BMW in 11th with Rob Collard ending a solid day’s running in 12th.
Matt Simpson improved on his 20th position this morning to end the day’s running with the 13th fastest time ahead of Motorbase Performance’s Tom Chilton. Senna Proctor rounded out the top 15.
The top 15 drivers were covered by less than a second with Nicolas Hamilton completing the most number of laps of the afternoon, with 31 completed setting the 24th fastest time.
The teams and drivers must now get ready for the next round of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park on the 28th and 29th April before returning to Thruxton for the first of two visits on the 18th and 19th May.
By Jordan Hollands.