Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship leader Colin Turkington has taken first bragging rights at Brands Hatch by securing the fastest time in a damp Free Practice One. The eBay Motors driver just pipped championship rival Jason Plato to top spot by 0.213s.
The top two drivers, who are heading into the weekend in a straight fight for championship glory, traded fastest laps for much of the running, with Plato leading the way early on before Turkington put his marker down with just under 20 minutes remaining. From then on as the track dried the MG and the BMW continued to pull away from the field, and by the time the session ended there was a gap of 0.801s to third place.
“It’s good to lay down a marker,” said Turkington. “The car feels good and its reassuring to know that the eBay Motors BMW always has a good base from which to start the weekend – you never feel like you’re playing catch up, which is important. The track was slippy on the Indy Circuit but then there was good grip out the back so it was quite difficult to find the limit. It’s a good start to the weekend, so lets see how FP2 and qualifying goes later today.”
Behind the battling top two there was another scrap, this time between Plato’s team-mate Sam Tordoff and the Pirtek Racing Honda Civic of Andrew Jordan. Tordoff had briefly set the fastest time in the first ten minutes of the session, and just ended up 0.005s ahead of Jordan in third at the chequered flag.
The two Honda Yuasa Racing Civic Tourers of Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal ended the session inside the top ten having been the first drivers to set quick times in the opening laps. Shedden, who won the last race of the season on the Grand Prix circuit in 2013, was fifth with Neal just a bit further back in eighth.
Another driver who was successful in the final race of last season – Jack Goff – appears to be going well again as he ran inside the top six for much of the free practice. He ended up seventh in his VW CC, just behind the Airwaves Racing Ford Focus of Mat Jackson.
It was an unfortunate session for the WIX Racing Mercedes of Adam Morgan, which spent most of the running in the gravel trap on the exit of Druids meaning that he was classified down in 18th, and the session was brought to a premature end two minutes from the chequered flag when Simon Belcher also ran off-track at the same corner and was beached.
After a huge accident at Silverstone two weeks ago it was impressive to see Rob Collard’s eBay Motors BMW repaired and setting competitive lap times. Despite discovering an engine misfire in shakedown yesterday, the #10 machine was able to secure the 14th fastest tour of the GP circuit.
Free practice two gets underway at 12:40, and Plato will undoubtedly be looking to grab the initiative before the all-important qualifying session this afternoon at 15:35