Jason Plato topped the times during the British Touring Car Championship’s Media Day test session at Donington Park, ahead of Team BMR stablemate and 2014 champion Colin Turkington and Laser Tools Racing’s Aiden Moffat.
Plato’s pace-setting time, a 1:10.249, was less than eight-tenths-of-a-second slower than his qualifying lap record at the circuit from last year, while Turkington was just 0.006s slower in his Volkswagen CC, with Moffat less than half-a-tenth further back.
There was a quiet start to proceedings when the track was opened at one o’clock, with Mike Bushell the first driver to take tentative steps down the pitlane in the series’ only official pre-season session.
It wasn’t long before the track was flooded by cars, however, with 2013 champion Andrew Jordan – one of the busiest drivers during the off-season – continuing to rack up testing mileage in his MG with a string of laps in the opening half hour, setting the initial pace with a 1:11.313s.
Dave Newsham followed suit in his Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet Cruze with an early spate of laps of the Leicestershire circuit, before rain briefly interrupted the early part of the session.
With only a short break in play, Turkington broke the silence with a lap of 1:11.101, which remained the fastest time until he bettered that no less than three times to set a 1:10.494.
Turkington’s supremacy was eventually broken 80 minutes into the session when his teammate and sparring partner Plato moved to the top of the standings on a 1:10.352, but Turkington responded shortly afterwards to reclaim the top spot.
There then ensued a lull in action, which was broken only briefly when Gordon Shedden brought out the first red flag of the day just short of the two-hour mark. Running resumed thereafter, before a second red flag was flown to recovered the stricken Team HARD. Toyota Avensis of Kieran Gallagher from the end of the pitlane.
From thereon in, the battle for honours was fought between last season’s top two of Turkington and Plato, with the latter eventually coming out on top with slightly over an hour of the session remaining.
Turkington’s position right behind his teammate made for ominous reading for BMR’s rivals, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom as Moffat’s time of 1:10.300 was agonisingly close to the pair of Volkswagens – in fact he had split them before Turkington jumped back into second – while the second Mercedes of Adam Morgan was a further four-thousandths-of-a-second back.
Jack Goff led Triple Eight’s charge and clocked up an impressive 65 laps during the four-hour session, ahead of teammate Jordan who in turn was slightly clear of Hunter Abbott, Warren Scott, Martin Depper and Sam Tordoff who completed the top ten.
26 cars were involved in the session (although Gallagher failed to set a time), with both Infiniti cars, Dan Welch, Nic Hamilton and Motorbase all unable to run for various reasons.
The first competitive session of the season is set to start at 10:00 on Saturday 4 April at the iconic Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, ahead of the opening three rounds of the 2015 season on Sunday 5 April.
Top ten times
|1||99||Jason PLATO||Team BMR||Volkswagen CC||45||1:10.249||0.000|
|2||1||Colin TURKINGTON||Team BMR||Volkswagen CC||62||1:10.255||0.006|
|3||16||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||Mercedes Benz A-Class||40||1:10.300||0.051|
|4||33||Adam MORGAN||WIX Racing||Mercedes Benz A-Class||52||1:10.304||0.055|
|5||31||M||Jack GOFF||MG 888 Racing||MG 6GT||65||1:10.380||0.131|
|6||77||M||Andrew JORDAN||MG 888 Racing||MG 6GT||54||1:10.625||0.376|
|7||54||Hunter ABBOTT||Exocet AlcoSense||Audi A4||62||1:10.794||0.545|
|8||39||Warren SCOTT||Team BMR||Volkswagen CC||68||1:10.829||0.580|
|9||30||Martin DEPPER||Eurotech Racing||Honda Civic||60||1:10.928||0.679|
|10||7||C||Sam TORDOFF||Team JCT600 with GardX||BMW 125i M Sport||58||1:10.985||0.736|