BTCC stars head to Thruxton for pre season testing

Andrew Jordan in his MG6 (photo by Marc Waller)The circuit of Thruxton in Hampshire was the scene of one of the larger of the pre-season tests this past Wednesday and Thursday

when some of the BTCC teams were joined by cars from support races plus other cars racing at Thruxton this year.

The weather was mixed with a sunny first day giving way to an overcast then wet Thursday. BTCC teams at the test were BMR, WSR, Triple 8, Honda, Eurotech and Alex Martin’s Motorbase Focus. BMR arrived on the second day and had all four of their cars and drivers. Aron Smith and Warren Scott joined by new signings Colin Turkington and Jason Plato. The team had recently just finished a major rebuild and partial redesign of all of their VW CC’s and so were mostly using the test day as a shakedown. A couple of the cars had their splitter come loose but otherwise it was an uneventful and successful first test of the year for the team. They also had the Clio that they will run in the supporting Clio cup on track with Ashley Sutton at the wheel.

WSR also had all of their cars with Andy Priaulx, Sam Tordoff and Rob Collard all doing a lot of laps during the test. With Andy joining the BTCC this year and experiencing NGTC cars for the first time it was important experience in the car on a track he enjoys;

“I love Thruxton and it’s probably the closest one to home for me, which is always nice! It’s a wonderful track, it’s unique and everything you do here you don’t get to do anywhere else. It’s one of those fantastic fast-commitment circuits, which is very enjoyable as a driver!”

Andrew Jordan is still the only driver announced by Triple 8 Racing and he did all the running in his MG6. He too was very positive about the track;

“I always go well at Thruxton,” added Jordan. “It gives me a buzz to drive like nowhere else does – even when I’m on my ‘out’ lap! I know how to get a front wheel-drive car to work round here, and I’d really like to get my fourth consecutive Thruxton pole this year. People have said the MG6 isn’t that great here, but I still think there’s scope to put it on pole. Outside of winning the championship, that is definitely one of my biggest aims.”
Honda ran one of last year’s Tourers as this year’s as yet unanounced new Civics aren’t ready. Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden shared the car which was being used to test new engine developments for this year’s car. It may be the last time we see a Civic Tourer on track.

Plato got his first taste of his new VW CC (photo by Marc Waller)Tordoff looking quick in his as un-yet unliveried car (photo by Marc Waller)Turkington said the new car was outside his comfort zone (photo by Marc Waller)Eurotech’s new owner, Jeff Smith was getting reacclimatised to the Civic he last drove in 2013, he seemed to have an uneventful test as did Alex Martin in the Motorbase Ford Focus. Fellow Focus driver, AMD’s Mike Bushell had been expected to be at the test but was sadly taken ill with pneumonia and had to be admitted to hospital. He is expected to back to full fitness soon when he will continue with the team’s winter testing program.

There were a few red flags during the two days, two clios causing the longest stoppages as they both had big accidents at the back of the circuit.

Also testing were several of the new MSA Formula cars that will replace the formula Ford championship as a support race to the BTCC this season. BTCC driver Rob Collard’s son Ricky was testing his car and is expecting to be a front runner in the championship.

Watching the test during the two days was Thruxton group’s managing director Bill Coombs and he spoke about the investment and efforts being made to improve the circuit and it’s facilities;

“It’s a pretty open secret that Thruxton has struggled financially in recent years, but it’s important to state that we are moving forward,” he underlined. “It’s a step-by-step process, and the necessary strategy that we have adopted has been to invest in our core external facilities – by which I mean the driving experiences, skid pan and kart track.

“By making a success out of them, we will be able to plough the profits back into the racing side, which is our ultimate passion. We are all racers at heart here at Thruxton, and our long-term goal is to develop the venue into what we want it to be – a thriving centre of motorsport excellence.”

Several of the BTCC drivers were openly critical of the circuit last year after big crashes during the BTCC meeting for Simon Belcher and Ollie Jackson. They will be pleased to hear of the efforts being made to improve the circuit long term, much like they have been trying to improve their cars for the season during the two days of the test. By Marc Waller

Priaulx looked fast as he adjusted to his NGTC car (photo by Marc Waller) Could it be the last time we see the Civic Tourer on track (photo by Marc Waller) Alex Martin went well in all conditions (photo by Marc Waller) Arom Smith look the fastest of the BMR cars (photo by Marc Waller) Warren Scott joined his three stars on track (photo by Marc Waller) Jeff Smith got reaquainted with his BTCC Civic (photo by Marc Waller) It didn't take Collard long to get back into driving fast (photo by Marc Waller)

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