The new hybrid era of the British Touring Car Championship got underway at Donington Park today, as the first of three hybrid installation tests was completed.
The test saw the first official outing of the TOCA Hybrid System for 2022, ahead of the season opener in just under four weeks’ time at the Leicestershire circuit.
All teams took part in the test, with most getting mileage in with the new hybrid system, whilst some teams completed the installation process across all of their cars during the day.
A late start due to fog meant proceedings got underway later than planned, with 22 cars completing around 250 laps of the circuit in the morning. In the afternoon, 23 drivers took to the track, with more than 2,000 miles of testing completed.
At the end of the day, Team BMW’s Colin Turkington headed the timesheets, posting a lap of 1 minute 9.104 seconds, ahead of the Honda of Gordon Shedden by 0.145 seconds.
Most of the drivers taking part in the test had already been announced by their teams, although of note was Jason Plato testing a BTC Racing Honda, and Ricky Collard in a Speedworks Toyota.
Two further official tests are scheduled for Croft on 6 April and Thruxton on 13 April.
Timesheet topper Turkington was pleased to be back on track, with the Northern Irishman getting his first taste of the hybrid system on Tuesday.
“It’s great just to get back in the car, it feels like it’s been a long time,” said Turkington. “It was my first experience of hybrid and you definitely feel a difference in terms of power once you deploy.
“We still have to focus on the handling and the chassis, though, that’s still number one. We want to make the car quicker and make it mechanically better, and with the hybrid system on top of that, we’ll have a fast package.
“Team BMW has worked extremely hard through the winter to make sure we can hit the ground running, so reliability was always going to be a factor to consider, but my car ran faultlessly today which has allowed us to get through our test programme.
“I’m enjoying being back in the saddle, but there’s still lots to learn. We’re all still a bit green on the hybrid side of things and when’s the best moment to use it.
“It’s still a lot of experimenting and we tried a lot of different solutions today, so it was productive and gives us a lot of data to look through before the next test at Croft.”