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BTCC Brands Hatch: Taylor-Smith and Chilton top practice

Aron Taylor-Smith and Tom Chilton stole the thunder from the expected British Touring Car Championship title contenders by leading the way in free practice at Brands Hatch.

Aron Taylor-Smith, Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

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Dubliner Taylor-Smith stamped in a late effort in the cooler conditions of the first session to top the times at the wheel of his Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra on a 47.905s.

Mikey Doble left it even later – the final lap of the session – to complete a 1-2 for the Midlands PMR squad with a lap just 0.007s adrift of his veteran team-mate.

In the lunchtime session, it was the Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai i30 N Fastback of Tom Chilton to the fore, by a considerable margin by the standards of the minuscule Brands Indy circuit – the Surrey man’s 48.047s left him 0.171s clear of the Alliance Racing-run NAPA Ford Focus ST of Dan Rowbottom.

Rowbottom caused the only red flag of the 70 minutes of running with nine minutes remaining when he went off at Paddock Hill Bend and “we kissed the barrier”.

The clock was set to allow five more minutes of running, during which the quickest time was set by the Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Corolla of Josh Cook, who remained fourth in the session but moved closer to the third-placed Alliance Ford of Dan Cammish.

The overall five fastest times across free practice all came from FP1. Behind the Vauxhalls, Colin Turkington was third in his West Surrey Racing BMW 330e M Sport, which sat atop the times until the closing minutes.

The four-time champion was just ahead of Cook, with reigning title holder Ash Sutton also within 0.1s of Taylor-Smith’s best in his Alliance Ford.

Tom Chilton, Bristol Street Motors Hyundai i30 N Fastback

Tom Chilton, Bristol Street Motors Hyundai i30 N Fastback

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Taylor-Smith received a black-and-white warning flag for track limits during that session, and did appear to be running wider at Paddock than most of the opposition.

Chilton’s FP2 topper put him sixth overall ahead of the FP1 bests of Jake Hill (WSR BMW) and Rowbottom, while Cammish was ninth on combined times and Andrew Watson (Speedworks Toyota) was 10th.

Rowbottom’s off was the second of the weekend at Paddock for the NAPA team – 1992 champion Tim Harvey had a whizz in Sam Osborne’s Focus on Friday for the ITV coverage of the series, and dropped it at Paddock.

But the bearded Midlander remains one of the favourites for pole position as series organiser TOCA’s new sporting regulations kick in this weekend.

The push-button boost allowance has been doubled for 2024, and Rowbottom, since he is sitting outside the top seven in the championship, has the full 15 seconds per lap allowance, which will have a greater effect at Brands Indy than any other circuit, because it has the shortest lap time.

Team-mate Cammish also appears to be sitting pretty in this regard, on 13s of boost.

Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The other new sporting regulation to impact qualifying is the splitting of the field into two groups, based on alternate FP2 times, for the first phase.

This means that Chilton, Cammish, Taylor-Smith, Sutton and Turkington will be among those fighting to make the top six cut-off in the first group to progress to Q2, with Rowbottom, Cook, Hill and championship leader Tom Ingram in the second group.

Ingram, twice a winner in the opening round at Donington Park, was outside the top 10 in both sessions in his Excelr8 Hyundai.

BTCC Brands Hatch - Practice results

FP2

   
1
 - 
3
   
Cla Driver # Car Laps Time Interval km/h
1 United Kingdom T. Chilton Team Bristol Street Motors 3 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 23

48.047

  90.504
2 United Kingdom D. Rowbottom NAPA Racing UK 32 Ford Focus ST 21

+0.171

48.218

0.171 90.183
3 United Kingdom D. Cammish NAPA Racing UK 27 Ford Focus ST 26

+0.184

48.231

0.013 90.159
4 United Kingdom J. Cook LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ 66 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 23

+0.189

48.236

0.005 90.149
5
R. Pearson Team Bristol Street Motors
14 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 22

+0.250

48.297

0.061 90.035
6 United Kingdom A. Morgan Team BMW 33 BMW 330e M Sport 23

+0.278

48.325

0.028 89.983
7 Ireland A. Taylor-Smith Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing 40 Vauxhall Astra 21

+0.279

48.326

0.001 89.981
8 United Kingdom A. Moffat LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ 16 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 26

+0.334

48.381

0.055 89.879
9 United Kingdom A. Sutton NAPA Racing UK 1 Ford Focus ST 24

+0.399

48.446

0.065 89.758
10 United Kingdom J. Hill Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport 24 BMW 330e M Sport 28

+0.458

48.505

0.059 89.649
11
M. Doble Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing
88 Vauxhall Astra 24

+0.463

48.510

0.005 89.640
12 United Kingdom T. Ingram Team Bristol Street Motors 80 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 23

+0.463

48.510

0.000 89.640
13 United Kingdom C. Turkington Team BMW 20 BMW 330e M Sport 24

+0.490

48.537

0.027 89.590
14 United Kingdom A. Watson Toyota Gazoo Racing UK 11 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 25

+0.524

48.571

0.034 89.527
15 United Kingdom R. Huff Toyota Gazoo Racing UK 12 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 29

+0.561

48.608

0.037 89.459
16 United Kingdom C. Smiley Restart Racing 222 Cupra León 27

+0.658

48.705

0.097 89.281
17 United Kingdom S. Osborne NAPA Racing UK 77 Ford Focus ST 24

+0.891

48.938

0.233 88.856
18
S. Sumpton Restart Racing
29 Cupra León 18

+1.213

49.260

0.322 88.275
19
D. De Duckhams Racing with Bartercard
18 Cupra León 24

+1.330

49.377

0.117 88.066
20
N. Halstead Team Bristol Street Motors
22 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 26

+1.533

49.580

0.203 87.706

FP1

   
1
 - 
3
   
Cla Driver # Car Laps Time Interval km/h
1 Ireland A. Taylor-Smith Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing 40 Vauxhall Astra 26

47.905

  90.772
2
M. Doble Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing
88 Vauxhall Astra 24

+0.007

47.912

0.007 90.759
3 United Kingdom C. Turkington Team BMW 20 BMW 330e M Sport 27

+0.065

47.970

0.058 90.649
4 United Kingdom J. Cook LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ 66 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 27

+0.088

47.993

0.023 90.606
5 United Kingdom A. Sutton NAPA Racing UK 1 Ford Focus ST 27

+0.090

47.995

0.002 90.602
6 United Kingdom J. Hill Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport 24 BMW 330e M Sport 25

+0.192

48.097

0.102 90.410
7 United Kingdom D. Rowbottom NAPA Racing UK 32 Ford Focus ST 28

+0.224

48.129

0.032 90.350
8 United Kingdom D. Cammish NAPA Racing UK 27 Ford Focus ST 19

+0.342

48.247

0.118 90.129
9 United Kingdom A. Watson Toyota Gazoo Racing UK 11 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 22

+0.376

48.281

0.034 90.065
10 United Kingdom T. Chilton Team Bristol Street Motors 3 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 27

+0.406

48.311

0.030 90.009
11 United Kingdom A. Morgan Team BMW 33 BMW 330e M Sport 23

+0.448

48.353

0.042 89.931
12 United Kingdom T. Ingram Team Bristol Street Motors 80 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 16

+0.457

48.362

0.009 89.914
13 United Kingdom A. Moffat LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ 16 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 22

+0.480

48.385

0.023 89.872
14
R. Pearson Team Bristol Street Motors
14 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 24

+0.533

48.438

0.053 89.773
15 United Kingdom R. Huff Toyota Gazoo Racing UK 12 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 19

+0.634

48.539

0.101 89.587
16 United Kingdom C. Smiley Restart Racing 222 Cupra León 27

+0.837

48.742

0.203 89.213
17 United Kingdom S. Osborne NAPA Racing UK 77 Ford Focus ST 26

+1.008

48.913

0.171 88.902
18
N. Halstead Team Bristol Street Motors
22 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 27

+1.494

49.399

0.486 88.027
19
S. Sumpton Restart Racing
29 Cupra León 25

+1.716

49.621

0.222 87.633
20
D. De Duckhams Racing with Bartercard
18 Cupra León 12

+1.914

49.819

0.198 87.285

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