Testing Times at Thruxton for TOCA Support Stars

Thruxton welcomes plethora of teams and drivers for official pre-event testPorsche, Ginetta, Renault and Formula Ford aces lap up the opportunity to gain vital track timeTest a warm-up ahead of BTCC race meeting on 3-4 May

With just over three weeks to go before the all-action Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship speeds into Thruxton circuit in Hampshire (3-4 May), the supporting series’ yesterday (Wednesday) took to the track for their official pre-event test.Drivers and teams from the entire supporting cast were in attendance – the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup, Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain, Ginetta Junior Championship, Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup and Porsche Carrera Cup GB.More than 60 cars ventured out onto Thruxton’s fast, flowing asphalt to learn as much as they could before the lights go out on race day, and with dry conditions, teams quickly lapped up the miles.First to take to the track were contenders from the Renault UK Clio Cup, although with cooler conditions in the morning, it wasn’t until their second session that fastest times were posted. Drivers to look out for include Josh Cook, who topped the timesheets 0.337s ahead of Mike Bushell, who was in-turn a scant 0.001s in front of Lee Pattison. With arguably the closest racing of all the support series, the Clios will undoubtedly put on a show come race day. Recent graduates to the BTCC from the Clio Cup include podium man Jack Goff and Simon Belcher, who has entered the UK’s most popular series for the first time this year.The Formula Ford Championship provides TOCA fans with single-seater thrills n’ spills, and based on the testing times yesterday, there will be plenty of it when the growing grid lines up in May. Whilst an accident for Jack Barlow at Church Corner in the first session brought out the red flags, 13 cars set competitive times in the afternoon running. At the close of play, just 0.004s separated Sam Brabham from overall pace-setter Harrison Scott, with Brabham’s JTR team-mate Max Marshall just a tenth further back in third.Some of the most entertaining track action on the BARC-run TOCA package is provided by the youngsters in the Ginetta Junior Championship, and 13 of the drivers – all of whom are under the age of 17 – were out testing. 2014 sees plenty of new talent coming through, with eight of the 13 runners at Thruxton in their rookie season. Jack Mitchell dominated proceedings at the curtain-raiser a few weeks ago, and continued to lead the way yesterday. Impressively, the second-fastest time was set by a rookie – 14-year-old Lando Norris.For graduates of the Ginetta Junior series, the GT4 Supercup is a logical next step. With several Supercup drivers going on to notable BTCC success including Adam Morgan and Tom Ingram, this challenging championship is another fertile proving-ground for future stars and Brands Hatch pace-setter and championship leader Andrew Watson led the way again around the high-speed Hampshire circuit.The test day concluded with the roar of a field of brand new Porsche Type-991 911 GT3 machines. These spectacular racing cars can lap Thruxton at an average speed of over 114mph, topping out at more than 140mph around the thrilling back section of the circuit. Spanish racer Victor Jimenez achieved a personal milestone, posting the fastest time in a Carrera Cup session for the first time.“It’s always a pleasure to see the huge variety of BARC-run championships on-track at Thruxton,” said Thruxton Group Managing Director Bill Coombs. “It’s a circuit that drivers love for its speed and for the commitment required to go fast here, so it was no surprise to see so many taking advantage of this testing opportunity. We can’t wait to see them in racing action in just a few weeks’ time!”With no fewer than 15 races over the two days including three headlining BTCC contests, Thruxton will certainly be the most action-packed place to be on 3-4 May.

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