The 60th year of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has kicked off this weekend. Motorsport fans waited 188 days for Britain’s biggest motor racing spectacle to return and their wait was rewarded with an exciting day at Brands Hatch Indy.

As BTC Norlin Racing’s test programme featured a number of wet days at the track, the morning sessions allowed the team to collect data on the dry running of the newly acquired Honda Civic Type R. Whilst Chris suffered some issues with his engine in FP1, James focused on getting the laps in.

FP2 provided lots of entertainment with just less than one second separating 30 of 32 cars on the grid. Chris Smiley made his presence felt by bringing the car home in P6 which made up for his limited running in FP1. Six of the top seven places consisted of Honda machinery with Tom Ingram’s Toyota separating the pack in P4.

After a mostly productive morning for the team, they returned to the garage to prepare the cars for qualifying at 15:15.

Eurotech’s Jack Goff took pole position at the qualifying session for the season opener. Goff was rewarded P1 after Dan Cammish seen his times removed from the leader board after passing through a red light in the pit lane. Cammish was consistently setting fast laps but eventually had to settle for P4 behind the returning Sam Tordoff and the 2017 runner up, Colin Turkington.

Chris Smiley continues to go from strength from strength with a respectable P16 finish that was 0.364s off Jack Goff.

“The car felt great today!” said Smiley. “I was very happy with my times and my overall placement. Starting race one in 16th is a good result. We have a great car and I’m very confident of our ability to attack the grid and aim for three top 10 finishes tomorrow!”

Teammate Nash finished in P26. “It has been a challenging day doing all our testing in public. The car is obviously very good but between me and the team I haven’t been able to extract the potential. It has been the first time on new Dunlop tyres and we showed no gains when putting new rubber on. We have some work to do but the team are fantastic and I look forward to making the car fast for us.”

Photography: Jay Adair

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