Cook tops damp FP1 at Brands
MG Racing RCIB Insurance driver Josh Cook set the pace in free practice one at Brands Hatch, as conditions improved throughout the session following early morning rain at the famous Kent venue.
Light drizzle greeted the 31-cars as they began their opening runs of the weekend, with fellow MG man Ashley Sutton initially setting the pace while the already greasy surface worsened.
The mid-session period saw many cars circulating without improvements in the times, although a dry line was beginning to form for the final ten minutes.
In typical fashion the track quickened with every tour and timing proved key in the closing moments. It was Cook who benefitted most as he crossed the line late on to set the 1:40.042s benchmark – albeit nearly ten seconds off the expected pace in perfect dry conditions.
Title contender Mat Jackson was second as he pushed his Ford Focus ahead of Rob Austin’s Toyota in the timesheets, whilst AmD’s Ollie Jackson impressed with a superb fourth place in the Audi S3.
“That was good,” enthused Ollie. “The overall position was a bit of a surprise because of the circumstances but it’s good to see the big changes we made on the car did work. We changed the whole spring damper units in the session – and the lads managed to turn it around in just four minutes.
“We haven’t really run the car properly with a wet setup so it was good to get some running. It’s a fantastic circuit, probably my favourite on the calendar.”
Tom Ingram took fifth – at a venue where he scored the first pole position of the season around the Indy circuit – and Team HARD duo Michael Epps and Jake Hill were next in the order. Local man Hill briefly topped the times until the late improvements pushed him down the leaderboard slightly, but the young charger could be one to watch this weekend.
Adam Morgan, Rob Collard and Jeff Smith rounded out the top ten.
The conditions prevented a number of the championship challengers from really showing their hand, as Silverline Subaru’s Colin Turkington acknowledged. “It doesn’t make it easy for what’s looking like a dry race one tomorrow, but it’s good to get the eye in with a bit of wet running,” he said.
“We understand the Subaru now so we can put something on the car that shouldn’t be too far away, but you’re going in a bit blind to some extent. We’ll just do our best. You have to focus on yourself and attack every session one at a time.
“I’m pleased to be here in with a shout. I’m 37 points back and it is a tall order to close that gap, but it’s the usual game plan of working hard to jump up the leaderboard.”
Free Practice Two will take place 12:45 before the final qualifying session of the 2016 BTCC season takes place at 15:40, which can be streamed live via www.itv.com/btcc.
2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Free Practice 1 – Brands Hatch:
1 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance 1m40.042s
2 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Motorbase Performance +0.366s
3 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +0.894s
4 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD Tuning.com +1.166s
5 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +1.479s
6 Michael EPPS (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +2.014s
7 Jake HILL (GBR) RCIB Insurance Racing +2.045s
8 Adam MORGAN (GBR) WIX Racing +2.094s
9 Robert COLLARD (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +2.502s
10 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +2.537s
11 Alex MARTIN (GBR) Dextra Racing +2.579s
12 Ash SUTTON (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +2.863s
13 Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team JCT600 Racing with GardX +2.896s
14 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +3.072s
15 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +3.319s
16 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +3.742s
17 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +3.755s
18 Aron SMITH (IRL) BKR +3.771s
19 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +3.867s
20 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team IHG Rewards Club +4.297s
21 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) Motorbase Performance +4.352s
22 Dan WELCH (GBR) Goodestone Racing +4.371s
23 Hunter ABBOTT (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +4.492s
24 James COLE (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +4.500s
25 Jason PLATO (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +4.511s
26 Stewart LINES (GBR) Maximum Motorsport +4.752s
27 Tony GILHAM (GBR) TLC/RCIB Insurance Racing +4.895s
28 Mark HOWARD (GBR) BKR +5.095s
29 Kelvin FLETCHER (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +5.447s
30 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Eurotech Racing +5.624s
31 Warren SCOTT (GBR) Silverline Subaru BMR Racing +6.389s