Rob Austin produces practice pace
Handy Motorsport’s Rob Austin cruised to the top of the timesheets in free practice one of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park.
Austin experienced a mixed opening event at Brands Hatch, which initially kicked off in some style for the Evesham racer. A flying fifth place in the curtain raiser was followed by an unfortunate incident under yellow flag conditions in race two, ulitmately ending in Austin’s disqualification and an end to a solid looking weekend.
Undeterred by the setback, however, Austin has again showed the pace of the Handy Toyota Avensis by setting the pace around the 1.98-mile Donington National circuit.
“We thought it would suit this circuit better,” he said. “On old tyres and normal running it’s a good sign early on. You can’t read into it too much because you really don’t know what everyone else is doing, but to be at the top with that much ease is very encouraging.
“We were top five pace at Brands Hatch a fortnight ago and we knew Donington Park would suit us better so we’re hoping for a good weekend. It’s all differnt in qualifying with new boots and you’ve got to put it all together so we’ll see what we can do.”
The fellow Toyota of Tom Ingram led the way for much of the 40-minute session, but he was eventually relegated down to fourth following late laps from Jack Goff’s Honda and Jake Hill’s VW respectively. The Team HARD-run Volkswagens have again shown their credentials after a promising opening weekend at Brands, with Michael Epps coming home sixth in this session.
BMW manufacturer driver Colin Turkington managed to wedge his 125i M Sport amongst the Independents’ runners with fifth place, the Northern Irishman continuing his impressive looking return to West Surrey Racing.
A further quartet of young drivers were next in the order with Aiden Moffat (Laser Tools Racing), Chris Smiley (BTC Norlin Racing), Adam Morgan (Ciceley Motorsport) and Ash Sutton making it seven different marques in the top ten.
Such is the strength in depth of young talent in the 2017 BTCC field that the average age of the top ten was just 26.
Free practice two takes place at 12:25 before the all-important qualifying session commences at 15:40, which will be streamed live on www.itv.com/btcc.
2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Free Practice 1 – Donington Park
1 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport 1m10.113s (101.61mph)
2 Jack GOFF (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.031s
3 Jake HILL (GBR) TAG Racing +0.124s
4 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +0.162s
5 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.212s
6 Michael EPPS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +0.378s
7 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.460s
8 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +0.463s
9 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +0.527s
10 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.592s
11 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +0.671s
12 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +0.705s
13 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +0.710s
14 Jeff SMITH (GBR) Eurotech Racing +0.729s
15 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat with Duo +0.777s
16 Aron TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +0.837s
17 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +0.840s
18 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +1.048s
19 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +1.065s
20 Josh COOK (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +1.166s
21 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +1.221s
22 Ant WHORTON-EALES (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +1.315s
23 Will BURNS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +1.356s
24 Josh PRICE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.479s
25 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.482s
26 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +1.497s
27 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +1.520s
28 James COLE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +1.700s
29 Luke DAVENPORT (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +1.934s
30 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +2.582s
31 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +3.698s
32 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed Racing NO TIME