Matt Neal emerged as the pace setter following the officially timed pre-season test at the British Touring Car Championship season launch, with the Halfords Yuasa Racing driver clocking a quickest time of 1:10.140 ahead of series rookie Ashley Sutton and the Toyota Avensis of Rob Austin.
His team-mate and defending champion, Gordon Shedden, managed the 16th fastest time and finished the session eight tenths of a second behind his slightly more decorated team-mate.
Team BMR were a notable absence from the circuit after they were only able to provide one of their Subaru Levorg Tourers for the morning’s media obligations, before returning the machinery to their workshops to continue the build of their new fleet ahead of the opening round at Brands Hatch in just under two weeks.
The top three were seperated by less than two tenths of a second across the four hours of running at Donington Park, with just under 150 laps of the National circuit being completed by the trio.
Tom Ingram was a notable fourth on the timesheets, whilst Eurotech Racing built on their extensive pre-season testing programme with a solid showing in 6th and 7th for Martin Depper and Jeff Smith respectively. Adam Morgan came next in the WIX Racing Mercedes A-Class, with Mat Jackson and Sam Tordoff rounding out the top ten.
Aron Smith’s opening running in his newly BKR-branded Volkswagen CC saw him finish 11th, with his rookie team-mate Mark Howard finishing near the foot of the table above Hunter Abbott, who encountered problems on his opening runs in the Chevrolet Cruze.
The only other drivers ‘out of place’ were Andrew Jordan and Jack Goff, with the former team-mates finishing behind Shedden in 16th and 17th. Ollie Jackson completed the most running of any driver with a total of 71 laps in his Audi S3.
Although drivers and teams are likely to have been experimenting with different weights, fuel loads and tyre compounds, the times below give us an indication as to who outside of the usual suspects has gotten it right, and who still needs to improve before the series reconvenes for the first meeting at Brands Hatch in just under a fortnights time.
|1||25||Matt NEAL||Halfords Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||35||1:10.140||0.000|
|2||116||Ashley SUTTON||MG Racing RCIB Insurance||MG6GT||57||1:10.231||0.091|
|3||11||C||Rob AUSTIN||Handy Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||56||1:10.297||0.157|
|4||80||M||Tom INGRAM||Speedworks Motorsport||Toyota Avensis||11||1:10.312||0.172|
|5||66||M||Josh COOK||MG Racing RCIB Insurance||MG6GT||53||1:10.338||0.198|
|6||30||M||Martin DEPPER||Eurotech Racing||Honda Civic Type R||58||1:10.442||0.302|
|7||55||Jeff SMITH||Eurotech Racing||Honda Civic Type R||27||1:10.443||0.303|
|8||33||Adam MORGAN||WIX Racing||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||67||1:10.453||0.313|
|9||7||C||Mat JACKSON||Motorbase Performance||Ford Focus||55||1:10.556||0.416|
|10||600||Sam TORDOFF||Team JCT600 with GardX||BMW 125i M Sport||58||1:10.557||0.417|
|11||40||Árón SMITH||BKR||Volkswagen CC||26||1:10.622||0.482|
|12||100||C||Rob COLLARD||Team JCT600 with GardX||BMW 125i M Sport||53||1:10.672||0.532|
|13||16||Aiden MOFFAT||Laser Tools Racing||Mercedes-Benz A-Class||43||1:10.766||0.626|
|14||24||Jake HILL||RCIB Insurance Racing||Toyota Avensis||65||1:10.803||0.663|
|15||48||Ollie JACKSON||AmD Tuning||Audi S3||71||1:10.905||0.765|
|16||52||M||Gordon SHEDDEN||Honda Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||28||1:10.940||0.800|
|17||77||Andrew JORDAN||Motorbase Performance||Ford Focus||43||1:10.992||0.852|
|18||31||G||Jack GOFF||Team IHG Rewards Club||BMW 125i M Sport||41||1:11.191||1.051|
|19||303||Matt SIMPSON||Speedworks Motorsport||Honda Civic Type R||60||1:11.236||1.096|
|20||22||Chris SMILEY||TLC Racing||Toyota Avensis||43||1:11.482||1.342|
|21||14||Alex MARTIN||Dextra Racing with Team Parker||Ford Focus||55||1:11.538||1.398|
|22||17||Dan WELCH||Goodestone Racing||Proton Persona||20||1:12.414||2.274|
|23||57||Andy NEATE||Honda Yuasa Racing||Honda Civic Type R||21||1:12.667||2.527|
|24||38||M||Mark HOWARD||BKR||Volkswagen CC||41||1:13.719||3.579|
|25||53||Hunter ABBOTT||Power Maxed Racing||Chevrolet Cruze||12||1:17.374||7.234|