BTCC update – Driver moves and Turkington tops practice at Snetterton

Turkington takes first practice (Photo by Marc Waller)

Turkington takes first practice (Photo by Marc Waller)Colin Turkington has taken fastest time in the first BTCC practice here at Snetterton in Norfolk.

In a very competitive session, the first six places were filled by six different makes of car.

There were a couple of driver changes in the week leading up to this round. The biggest shock was the news that Eurotech have been forced to withdraw the car of Daniel Lloyd after his promsed sponsorship money didn’t arrive.

Lloyd explained on social media;

“[I’m] Absolutely gutted to announce I won’t be racing this weekend at Snetterton due to a large backer not coming through! After having two front row qualifying positions and being 2nd quickest at the Snetterton test I’m gutted I can’t get back in the car this weekend! I want to say a huge thank you to Jeff Smith and the rest of the Eurotech team for providing me with a car capable of two front row qualifying positions after zero testing! Also a huge thank you to all of my sponsors shown in this picture for supporting me through the last three rounds! It’s been my first attempt in 5 years at a front wheel drive car so I’m proud to have shown my pace. Fingers crossed I’ll back in the BTCC soon.”

Another sponsor related driver change was Chris Smiley at Team Hard. He has been forced to step down to the Clio cup due to some sponsorship money not being paid. His place in the team has been taken by Michael Caine, who has done several part seasons in the past with the last one being in 2013. He was also the 2012 British GT champion.

Caine spoke about the opportunity;

“This opportunity came up, and it is interesting,” said Caine. “The team has punched above its weight this season with Michael Epps and Jake Hill, and I hope I will be able to add some experience to the operation. Lots of people behind the scenes have helped to make this possible, and I will give it my best shot.”

Caine was twenty seventh in first practice.

Tony Gillham explained that Smiley is still very much part of the team;

“We want to be clear that we are still very much involved with Smiley,”.

“Chris is an amazing driver, but unfortunately the promised funds and support never came and so the off-track distraction hampered his progress and also development with the car.

“Due to him being let down he has been up against it from day one and therefore unable to showcase what he can really do.”

Smith was fast in his newly liveried car (Photo by Marc Waller) Plato looked to be hiding his true pace (Photo by Marc Waller) Jordan looked quick (Photo by Marc Waller) Championship leader Tordoff settled for second for this session (Photo by Marc Waller) Caine takes over Smileys car with a make over to match the other team Hard cars (Photo by Marc Waller)




He also welcomed Caine;

“We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Michael Caine for the rest of the year, who can help push the car forwards.

“Michael has vast experience and has shown with Motorbase that he can secure results in both GT racing and the BTCC. We’re all looking forward to working together.”

The first practice session was a battle between Turkington’s Subaru Levorg and Tordoff’s BMW 1 series with the two swapping fastest times before Turkington ended the battle with a time of 1:56.547 nearly half a second clear of Tordoff in second.

Ashley Sutton’s MG was next up in third with Andrew Jordan’s Pirtek Focus taking fourth, pushing very hard around the track with the car visibly right on the limit in the quick corners.

Adam Morgan put the Wix Racing Mercedes in fifth ahead of BKR’s Aron Smith. Smith was very impressive around the track, he also looked right on the limit and he was the quickest of the cars using the older spec NGTC parts. (The standard parts which all BTCC cars must use.) His was the quickest car through the speed traps measuring top speed. His car has a new very bright livery this weekend.

Josh Cook was seventh in the second of the work’s MGs only fractionally faster than Tom Ingram’s Speedworks Toyota in eighth. Ninth was Mat Jackson, Jordan’s team mate in the second of the Motorbase run Ford Focus. James Cole was an improved tenth in his works Subaru. Neal and Shedden were eleventh and twelfth in the works Honda Civics, slowed by success ballast. Rob Austin was next up in the Handy Motorsport Avensis. Jason Plato was fourteenth in the works Subaru but he was unlikely to be showing his true pace. Matt Simpson rounded out the front half of the field in fifteenth for his Speedworks Honda Civic.

Rob Collard was down in nineteenth this session in his WSR run BMW, expect him to move up later on along with team mate Goff in twenty third. Eurotech’s duo Smith and Depper found themselves in twentieth and twenty fifth respectively and may well be missing having their team mate Daniel Lloyd.

Kelvin Fletcher beat Stewart Lines in the battle to not be last of the runners with Dan Welch failing to set a time after engine issues.

Full times are on TSL timing By Marc Waller


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