Brands Hatch came alive last week as it hosted pre-season testing for the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship cars, in preparation for the first three rounds which take place this weekend at the Kent circuit.
The Launch Season evening took place at pretty Hever Castle before this year’s drivers descended on Brands Hatch the following day to begin testing with a healthy 30-car grid line up.
Car and racing enthusiasts flocked to the circuit to get a glimpse of the drivers and see the new cars in action. Many of them also got the chance to walk the pit lane and get up close and personal with the cars and teams.
Over 3000 laps of the 1.2 mile Indy Circuit were completed in the group test, with Sam Tordoff sitting on top of the timesheets in his first official outing for the Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance team.
The reigning champions West Surrey Racing managed to get their cars into second and third positions in the morning shakedown, with Andrew Jordan and Colin Turkington setting fast times in their brand-new 330i M Sports, which were only completed 48 hours before, which is pretty impressive.
Lap times tumbled during the course of the afternoon with Tordoff once again setting the pace in his 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 in his new Civic Type R.
“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.”
Local team Motorbase Performance, based in Wrotham, are hoping that Tom Chilton will carry their 2019 title hopes, with the multiple race-winner looking for more success in his Ford Focus in 2019. Chilton is joined at the team by Ollie Jackson and Nic Hamilton, brother of five-time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis.
“I’ve done so many laps today that I’m feeling a little dizzy,” said 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 two other teams that class Brands Hatch as their local circuit, whilst Jake Hill, Michael Crees and Matt Simpson are also drivers based close to the circuit.
The opening race and first three rounds of the season take place at Brands Hatch this weekend 6th and 7th April 2019. The entire race day will be broadcast live on ITV4.
There will also be an action-packed support package, with Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Renault UK Clio Cup, Ginetta GT4 SuperCup, Ginetta Juniors and British F4 categories racing.
Tickets for the opening three rounds of the BTCC cost from £28 for adults with children aged 13 and under getting free entrance. Please visit the Brands Hatch website for more information and to book tickets. Ticket holders will also be able to walk about the pit before the race starts on Sunday.
Simon Burrell is Editor-in-Chief of Our Man Behind The Wheel and Our Man On The Ground Travel and Lifestyle Magazine.
Photographs courtesy of the BTCC