Ingram and Tordoff head the two BTCC practice sessions at Croft

Ingram was first in the first session and was second in the second! (photo by Marc Waller)

Ingram was first in the first session and was second in the second! (photo by Marc Waller)Hot and mostly sunny conditions greeted the BTCC drivers here at Croft as they headed out for the two free practice sessions before this afternon’s qualifying.

The sessions saw the competitive debut of Nicolas Hamilton, brother of f1 champion Lewis as he competes in the AMD Tuning run Audi A3 for the first time. Also debuting is local driver Max Coates who is taking over the second Infinti for Support our Paras Racing. The two additions mean we should see thirty starters here for the first race at least!

Tom Ingram was the fastest driver in the first session which had a rather mixed up look to it. Andy Priaulx was in second which wasn’t a surprise as it’s always been a BMW circuit but behind him in third was Martin Depper in his best ever position in any session. He was ahead of Gordon Shedden in the works Civic Type R. Aron Smith was next up in fifth, quickest of the Team BMR VW CC’s. Colin Turkington, his team mate was seventh with the Wix Racing Mercedes of Adam Morgan in sixth. Championship leader Plato was only fifteenth but don’t write him off yet, he often has a slow practice session only to put the car at the front on the grid once qualifying starts.

Jack Goff was eighth, the best of the MG’s with team mate Jordan in twelfth. Matt Neal took ninth beating Jeff Smith in the Eurotech Civic who took a strong tenth in what was a good session for the Eurotech team. Out of the debut drivers, it was Nicholas Hamilton who placed the best with 26th slot, one ahead of Max Coates in twenty seventh. Both drivers hope to move forward as they learn their respective cars. Coates hadn’t driven the car before the first session and so faces the steepest learning curve.

In the second session it was local driver Sam Tordoff fastest with the three WSR BMW’s taking the first three slots for much of the session but in the closing stages Tom Ingram moved up to second pushing Andy Priaulx down to third. Shedden produced a late session flyer to put himself into fourth. Jack Goff and Adam Morgan also had late quick laps, to put themselves fourth and fifth. Collard found himself dropping from third down to sixth but it was still a strong session for the WSR Squad.

Jeff Smith proved that Eurotech’s quick times in the first session weren’t a one off with seventh place, one ahead of the other Smith, Aron in his BMR VW. (The two are not related!) Plato and Turkington were fifthteenth and sixteenth with Warren Scott Seventeenth in the fourth of the BMR VW CC’s. Martin Depper was only fourteenth this time though but the team have high hopes for qualifying. He lost a lot of running after damage sustained at the chicane sent him back to the pits. The top ten was completed by Rob Austin in his Excocet Alcosense Audi A4. He’d had a disapinting first session down in eighteenth. Team mate, Hunter Abbott struggled in both taking twentieth in the first session and moving up once place to nineteenth in the second.

Tordoff was fastest in the second session (photo by Marc Waller) The works Hondas are consistant (photo by Marc Waller) Moffat was one of many drivers to hit the tyres and get taped up (photo by Marc Waller) Hamilton won the battle of the newbies (photo by Marc Waller) Jeff Smith is having a good weekend with his team (photo by Marc Waller)

Hamilton again won the battle of the debutants in his AMD Audi A3, taking twenty eighth just 0.034 seconds ahead of Coates in twenty ninth.

All the cars ran in the first session although Kieran Gallagher had to pull out without setting a competitive time after engine issues. He then missed the second session entirely.

Both sessions saw many cars hitting the tyre walls that prevent corner cutting at the chicane. The second session in particular saw many of the field heading to the pits for repairs with tape as fibreglass bodywork was smashed open. Depper, as mentioned earlier was worst off with his running stopped for the session but all the cars with damage should be okay for qualifying.

Plato is in the midfield so far but dont count him out (photo by Marc Waller) Depper did very well in the first session (photo by Marc Waller) Coates knows the track but not the car (photo by Marc Waller) Priaulx looks strong (photo by Marc Waller)

Qualifying gets under way at a quarter to four and it looks set to be a close and hard fought session.

Times for both practice sessions are available from TSL timing.

Session on here;
and session two is here; by Marc Waller

Written by