The 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is primed and ready for the opening event of the season at Brands Hatch next weekend (6/7 April), after the capacity 30-car grid completed a successful test day at the famous Kent venue.
Following Tuesday's Season Launch evening at the beautiful and historic Hever Castle, the full line-up of drivers then descended onto Brands Hatch to take part in today’s official pre-season test session.
A huge crowd greeted the cars and stars of Britain’s biggest motorsport series as fans arrived eager for their first glimpse of the latest 2019 BTCC machinery. Spectators also packed the pitlane to enjoy a first-ever Season Launch autograph signing, proving another huge hit with the public.
The atmosphere and stakes will be further raised next weekend when the serious business gets underway for Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
Sam Tordoff tops testing
More than 3000 laps were completed in today’s group test around the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit, as all 30-cars impressively hit the ground running ahead of the campaign.
Sam Tordoff earned early bragging rights as he sat on top of the timesheets in his first official outing for the Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance team.
Reigning champions West Surrey Racing fired out a warning shot to the rest of the field, storming into second and third positions during the morning running. The BMW manufacturer squad only completed the build of its brand new 330i M Sports less than 48 hours before the test, but Andrew Jordan and Colin Turkington proved its potency immediately out of the box.
Lap times further quickened in the afternoon and it was Tordoff again setting the pace in the older shaped Honda Civic Type R. Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher’s Tom Chilton moved into second ahead of Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish.
“It was a mega day,” said Tordoff. “We’ve done a full race weekend simulation. This morning we carried out a free practice and qualifying run, and this afternoon we’ve completed three race runs. The Civic Type R is on the money and is without doubt the best touring car I’ve ever driven.”
The hours spent today around the Indy Circuit mark the first collective outing for the 2019 BTCC field, and, as always with testing, lap times should be taken with a pinch of salt as teams work through demanding, varying programmes. Set-up, and bedding in new drivers and machinery is often the priority.
Home draw for Motorbase Performance
Motorbase Performance is based less than two miles away from Brands Hatch and will be banking on home support when the series kicks off next weekend.
Tom Chilton arguably carries the 2019 title hopes for the Wrotham-based squad with the multiple race-winner looking for yet more success in the Ford Focus. Chilton is joined at the team by stable-mates Ollie Jackson and Nic Hamilton – the latter being the brother five-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis.
“I’ve done so many laps today that I’m feeling a little dizzy,” commented Chilton. “We’ve struggled a bit during testing following some developments and had to push quite hard. We’re now at the point where I’m happy and hopefully we can run at the front back at Brands next weekend.”
Team HARD and AmD are other outfits that class Brands Hatch as a local circuit, whilst Jake Hill, Michael Crees and Matt Simpson are drivers based near the legendary Kent track.
Rounds 1, 2 and 3 of the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will take place at Brands Hatch, with the entire race day broadcast live and in high definition on ITV4.
In addition to the three high-profile BTCC showdowns, there's also a packed support package, with Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Renault UK Clio Cup, Ginetta GT4 SuperCup, Ginetta Juniors and British F4 categories.