BTCC boys enjoy fun in the Spanish sun
Seven Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship drivers have been lapping up some Spanish sunshine at Parcmotor Castellolí as they rev their 2016 preparations firmly into life.
In the first major group test of the year, Honda Yuasa Racing trio Gordon Shedden, Matt Neal and new signing Andy Neate, Eurotech Racing’s Jeff Smith and Martin Depper, BTCC rookie Matt Simpson in his Speedworks Motorsport-run Honda Civic Type R and Alex Martin’s Dextra Racing Ford Focus have all converged on the 2009-built Catalonian circuit for four days of warm weather running (8-11 January).
The 2.96km Parcmotor Castellolí is an FIA international standard track that incorporates changes in elevation, drops and blindcorners and regularly hosts motorcycle, Supermoto and motocross races and trials events.
BTCC.net caught up with former European Hot Rod Champion Simpson to find out how he is settling into his new touring car adventure.
“It’s amazing – I’m literally living the dream!” he enthused. “We’ve got a pretty comprehensive pre-season testing programme planned, and this is the first stage of it. We’re getting closer to the pace in every session – quicker than I’d expected, to be honest – and I’m gaining in confidence with every run.
“I’ve been used to predominantly rear-wheel drive in the past, but I’m rapidly getting to grips with the Civic Type R – it feels absolutely planted. I’ve been learning a lot on the data side, too – seeing where I’m losing out and where I’m improving. I’m just soaking up all the information – I’m basically a sponge, listening and learning and taking everything on-board!
“The team is really beginning to gel, and having so many people behind me is fantastic. Matt [Neal] and Gordon [Shedden] have also been extremely helpful; I really appreciate that – to receive advice from drivers of their calibre is something pretty special.
“Overall, it’s been very encouraging and I’m pleased with how we’ve got on so far. The weather has definitely been on our side in Spain, and to get so much dry, warm running at this time of year is worth its weight in gold.
“I’m under no illusions that I have a big learning curve ahead of me, but I want to be as prepared as I can possibly be going to Brands Hatch for round one. There’s plenty of work still to do, of course, but we now have a very solid foundation to build on.”