Newsham causes a stir by topping media day test

A packed provisional entry list for the 2012 British Touring Car Championship turned up for the pre-season media day at Silverstone, and there was a surprise in store when Dave Newsham set the pace in the afternoon test for ES Racing.

An impressive provisional entry list of 25 cars was revealed to the public on the media day last Monday, and the fans and journalists alike marveled at the sights on track and in pitlane as the many new cars were on show for all eyes to see.

Most notable of all was the revealling of Triple Eight Racing’s MG6 car, built to NGTC regulations for their drivers Jason Plato and Andy Neate. The car put in its first mileage during the media tracking photography laps, but did not participate in the afternoon timed session.

Just like last year, that session was topped by a Vauxhall Vectra, but this time in the hands of Dave Newsham for his new squad ES Racing, the former Clio Cup champion sending a warning sign out to rivals that he could well be a dark horse in the very much independent squad.

Enjoying the turbocharged Vauxhall Vectra having driven a BMW and SEAT for Geoff Steel Racing and Special Tuning Racing in his rookie BTCC season last, Newsham’s time of 58.965s around the National layout was nearly 0.4s faster than the new NGTC Honda Civic of 2011 runner-up Gordon Shedden, who jumped ahead of reigning champion team-mate Matt Neal in the dying moments.

Rob Collard was o.443s behind Newsham in fourth driving West Surrey Racing’s new turbochaged BMW, his new team-mate Tom Onslow-Cole finishing seventh less than two tenths further back as he got back to grips with rear-wheel drvier machinery.

Andrew Jordan was fifth in his brand-new NGTC Honda Civic despite some spectacular sideways moments in the final section of the circuit, while Rob Austin was sixth in his Audi, Austin having announced 52 year-old Mark Hazel as a driver for the team.

Motorbase/Airwaves Ford have also been rebranded for this season as Redstone Racing thanks to their new sponsor, Aron Smith the best of the trio, under 0.7s behind Newsham whose team-mate Chris James showed vast improvement on his baptism of fire season in 2011 by lapping within a second also of his team-mate.

Their lead driver Mat Jackson set only 11 laps in the session due to technical problems in a session that was stopped three times, firstly when Liam Griffin beached his Ford in the gravel, before problems for Shedden and Tony Hughes brought out red flags on two more occassions.

Fifteen cars officially recorded times, as along with Plato and Neate’s MG’s other cars present that elected not to test inlcuded the Speedworks Toyotas of Tony Hughes and rookie Adam Morgan, Dynojet’s Frank Wrathall and Dan Welch’s Proton Persona. 

Notable absentees include Techspeed that ran ex-race winner Paul O’Neill, and Special Tuning Racing. RML also recently announced their withdrawal from the series, whilst Arena Ford moved to World Touring Cars where Tom Chilton and reigning BTCC Independent champion James Nash have recently participated in their opening round at Monza.

1.  Dave Newsham     ES Vauxhall           58.965s
2.  Gordon Shedden   Honda                 + 0.394s
3.  Matt Neal        Honda                    + 0.408s
4.  Rob Collard      WSR BMW             + 0.443s
5.  Andrew Jordan    Eurotech Honda         + 0.473s
6.  Rob Austin       Austin Audi             + 0.530s
7.  Tom Onslow-Cole  WSR BMW          + 0.604s
8.  Aron Smith       Motorbase Ford      + 0.681s
9.  Chris James      ES Vauxhall              + 0.728s
10.  Liam Griffin     Motorbase Ford      + 0.892s
11.  Jeff Smith       Eurotech Honda          + 0.909s
12.  Ollie Jackson    AmD Volkswagen    + 0.984s
13.  Nick Foster      WSR BMW               + 1.089s
14.  Lea Wood         Wood Vauxhall      + 1.353s
15.  Tony Gilham      Gilham Honda         + 4.608s
16.  Mat Jackson      Motorbase Ford      + 9.372s

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