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Birthday boy Priaulx tops opening BTCC practice

Saturday, August 08 2015

Andy Priaulx topped the opening practice session for this weekend's Snetterton rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship today (Saturday), pipping Jason Plato and Matt Neal in the final moments.

The newly-liveried Team BMR cars were the first to lap the 300 circuit under two minutes, with Aron Smith heading Colin Turkington at the start of the session. After 15 minutes, Plato went out and topped the times, a quarter of a second quicker than Smith and the pair traded sector times on the following lap, but only Plato completed the lap, gaining another three tenths.

Halfway through the session, Motorbase's Mat Jackson took second place from Smith, albeit half a second behind Plato's benchmark time. Nevertheless it was an encouraging sign for the returning team and it spoiled the symmetry for BMR, who had hitherto occupied the top three places in the order.

Next to split the VW CCs was Andrew Jordan, taking third in his strikingly-liveried chrome MG, as Jackson went even faster, gaining a couple of tenths and taking the fastest first sector time of all at this stage. He was then joined in the top three by the Civic Type R of championship leader Gordon Shedden, who seemed to be handling a full complement of success ballast rather well at this stage.

Meanwhile Jackson had posted the fastest final sector of the circuit, and was clearly finding the handling of his Ford Focus to his liking. Then Neal joined his team mate in the top four, and followed this up with a lap just three hundredths slower than arch-rival Plato's.

Late on Jack Goff moved up to fourth and Aron Smith third, demoting Jackson to sixth, but in the dying moments birthday boy Priaulx topped the times by five hundredths, carrying on WSR's form from Croft. This meant that the top three were covered by less than a tenth of a second, and with the top 15 within a second, the omens were good for the weekend.

The second practice session will take place at 12:10pm.

Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship Practice one
1, Andy Priaulx, WSR, BMW 125i M-Sport, 1:56.648s
2, Jason Plato, Team BMR, VW CC, +0.055s
3, Matt Neal, Honda Racing, Civic Type R, +0.089s
4, Aron Smith, Team BMR, VW CC, +0.193s
5, Jack Goff, MG Racing, MG6 GT, +0.296s
6, Mat Jackson, Motorbase, Ford Focus, +0.307s
7, Gordon Shedden, Honda Racing, Civic Type R, +0.357s
8, Colin Turkington, Team BMR, VW CC, +0.477s
9, Andrew Jordan, MG Racing, MG6 GT, +0.491s
10, Rob Collard, WSR, BMW 125i M-Sport, +0.523s

Click here for the full result.

Tickets for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton on 8/9 August are available on the gate for £14 on Saturday and £32 on Sunday, with free entry for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.