BTCC

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ANDREW JORDAN TAKES POLE POSITION…

Honda Civic racer claims third pole position of his BTCC career

Andrew Jordan took the opening pole position of the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship amid a shower of sleet at a cold Brands Hatch.
 
Jordan fired an early warning by setting the fastest time during free practice in the morning, and he backed that up by edging out champion Gordon Shedden by less than a tenth of a second in qualifying.
 
The MG KX Momentum duo of Jason Plato and Sam Tordoff will line-up third and fifth respectively for Sunday’s opening race, with Honda Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal sandwiched between them in fourth. David Newsham rounded out the top six in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis.
 
The session got off to a dramatic start with a number of drivers spinning on their out-laps while trying to get some heat into the tyres. The first notable victim was Pirtek’s Jeff Smith on the run up to Druids, but real chaos followed when Colin Turkington lost control on the exit of the same hairpin. As cars dived one way and then the other to avoid the stricken BMW 125i M Sport, an unsighted Jack Goff unfortunately collected the 2009 champion. Turkington managed to hobble his damaged BMW back to the pits but the Vauxhall Insignia of Goff wasn’t so fortunate – his car was unable to continue after the contact. Liam Griffin and David Nye both endured their own lurid moments while trying to avoid Turkington, but were able to re-join later in the session.
 
After a red flag period to clear the Goff’s car and related debris, it was the turn of some of the underdogs to top the times early after the restart. Rob Austin (Audi A4) and Tom Onslow-Cole (VW Passat CC) both enjoyed spells at the top of the timesheet before eBay Motors’ Rob Collard made his own move to provisional pole.
 
The Hondas and MGs were merely waiting in the wings however, and it was Jordan that made the first move with 20 minutes of the session remaining. Shedden fought back and made his first appearance at the top of the order with a 48.483s lap time. Not to be outdone, Jordan improved again to set a time just 0.096s quicker than his Honda counterpart. 
 
With half of the session still remaining, any hope for an exciting climax diminished when light sleet and hail began to fall at the legendary Kent venue. With drivers failing to improve their times there were more off-track moments for Neal, Newsham and Jeff Smith.
 
Outside of the noted top six finishers, it was Austin who held on to seventh when the chequered flag fell, with Jeff Smith, Nick Foster and Adam Morgan completing the top ten grid order.
 
Airwaves Racing’s Mat Jackson and Aron Smith could only produce 12th and 14th respectively as the team admitted to be searching for the perfect set-up for its NGTC Ford Focus. Another to endure a problematic session was Dynojet’s Frank Wrathall after a ride height infringement saw his top ten time removed and he’ll subsequently start at the back of the grid.
 
Lea Wood dominated the S2000 runners in his Vauxhall Vectra and will have the pleasure of leading the inaugural battle for Jack Sears Trophy honours when race one gets underway tomorrow. 
 
The big winner, however, was Jordan who signalled his intention to challenge for the 2013 title by claiming the third pole position of his BTCC career. He also leads the championship after scoring the first point of the new season for taking pole.

Andrew Jordan said: “It’s nice to qualify on pole, obviously it’s the only time that everyone will have no ballast so it’s a complete level playing field. We’ve been quick in testing, and earlier today we did a race run and the pace was really good then as well. That was really the easy part though – tomorrow’s the hard part. We’ve got a lot of work still to do, but we’ve started in the right place.” 
 
Gordon Shedden said: “That’s got to be one of the strangest sessions I’ve driven in for a long time. It was definitely the first session I’ve qualified in where it snowed! We’re on the front row which is a great place to be. You’re never going to win the championship at Round 1 but you can make life really difficult for yourself. It’s great to be at the sharp end and with three Honda Civics in the top four, and I’m sure there are going to be three exciting races tomorrow so I cant wait.”
 
Jason Plato said: “I’m a bit frustrated with qualifying to be honest. There were just lots of cars out there not paying attention and I didn’t get a clear lap in. On my last lap I had purple sectors until the last corner and I got badly baulked – so I’m a bit frustrated that I didn’t reach my full potential and didn’t get the best out of the car otherwise I think we could have had a good chance at pole. Still, we’re not far off so we’ve still got a chance to win from there.”

There will be three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Brands Hatch tomorrow (31 March) with the opener taking place at 11:45. All three races will be broadcast live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD with the coverage commencing at 10:45.

 
2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Brands Hatch Indy – Qualifying
 
1 Andrew Jordan (Pirtek Honda) 48.387
2 Gordon Shedden  (Honda Yuasa Racing) +0.096
3 Jason Plato (MG KX Momentum Racing) +0.184
4 Matt Neal (Honda Yuasa Racing) +0.227
5 Sam Tordoff (MG KX Momentum Racing) +0.339
6 Dave Newsham (Speedworks Motorsport) +0.440
7 Rob Austin (WIX Racing) +0.457
8 Jeff Smith (Pirtek Honda) +0.527
9 Nick Foster (eBay Motors)  +0.814
10 Adam Morgan (Ciceley Racing) +0.816

DTM

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MARCO WITTMANN ON TOP IN FINAL DAY OF TESTING –

Barcelona – Marco Wittmann made for the final fastest lap time the of the official four-day ITR tests at Barcelona. On Friday, in perfect weather conditions with temperatures of about 21.5° C, the DTM rookie hat was the quickest driver at the Circuit de Catalunya. He set his fastest time as early as in the morning session by crossing the line of the circuit’s 2.977-kilometre version with his BMW M3 DTM in 1:06.451 minutes.

Second position on the time sheets of day four was secured by Pascal Wehrlein, who is about to contest his first season on the grid of the most popular international touring-car series – just as Wittmann. With his DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé, 18-year old Wehrlein set a personal fastest lap time of 1:06.687 minutes and was the fastest in the afternoon session – but finished 0.235 seconds behind Wittmann, in the end. Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz) came third, with his personal fastest lap time of1:06,706 minutes, followed by the best Audi driver, Timo Scheider. The fastest lap time Scheider achieved with his RS 5 DTM (1:06,844 minutes) was 0.393 seconds slower than the one of Wittmann.

Thanks to Wittmann, BMW also secured one of the fastest lap times on the Barcelona time sheets. On the previous three days, the fastest lap times were secured by the two Mercedes-Benz drivers Robert Wickens (Tuesday/1:06.735 minutes) and Gary Paffett (Wednesday/1:06.149) as well as Audi’s new signing Jamie Green (Thursday/1:07.171). So, Paffett also proved to be the quickest of the entire four days of testing. While the fastest man on Friday also was the busiest: Marco Wittmann completed 220 laps, representing a total mileage of 654.94 kilometres, on a single day of testing at Barcelona.

Prior to the season kick-off, held on 05th May at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, the teams of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz will have another four days of testing for their preparations for the coming season. From 09th to 12th April, Hockenheim will be the venue of the second and final ITR tests, with the 09th April also representing the official DTM Media Day.

On the four days of the first official ITR tests, the teams and drivers gathered a lot of – predominantly positive – experiences with two technical innovations. The one innovation were the new Hankook option tyres and the other the new Drag Reduction System, DRS, that allows the drivers to change the adjustment of the rear wing for a certain amount of time to temporarily increase their top speed.

Quotes after day four:

Timo Scheider (Audi): “Being back at the wheel of a racing car after such a long time was fantastic. First of all I had to familiarise myself with the DTM car but I succeeded in doing so very well. It may sound like a standard comment but we completed 90 percent of our scheduled programme. Nonetheless, it is extremely difficult to make reliable assessments. It was sunny at warm, at times, and then again overcast and colder. Therefore, the track conditions differed a lot. On Friday afternoon I covered my first kilometres with the option tyres – and they represented a huge positive surprise. Driving the DTM car on these tyres is truly big fun. Afterwards, you just don’t want to switch back to the standard tyres. And the DRS also makes an impact. I think it was time for making some changes. The fans want to see overtaking manoeuvres and both the DRS and the option tyres will be helpful to achieve this goal.”

Andy Priaulx (BMW): “Contesting such a test with your new team is really nice. We used the time to get to know one another better – and I quickly found a good rhythm. I definitely will leave Barcelona with a lot of positive experiences under my belt. The option tyre is quick and rather consistent. And when you go out again on the standard tyres after a stint on the options you have to re-adapt. That’s an interesting challenge.”

Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz): “I had two rather positive days of testing. We had no technical problems whatsoever and consequently, we could make optimum use of the time by gaining a lot of important insights. And in this year, with the limited test time available to us, this is of particular importance. The crew also cooperated fantastically and did a great job. I’ve also got a very positive feeling regarding the DRS but at this point in time it’s difficult to say how big the advantage will be, in the end.”