After a winter seeking performance improvements through mixture of; high tech computer led modelling, traditional automotive race engineering, track testing followed by experience and old fashioned trial and error, it was time to present the BTCC cars to the public for 2020. Or rather it would have been had other world events not got in the way.
Launch events are usually full on with fanfare, raa-raa and driver bonhomie with a pit lane full of enthusiastic fans eager meeting their heroes and getting up close to the racing cars. This year however it was all rather sombre with just the invited media being present it was all rather workman like.
Although all the teams had been track testing for a few months this was the first time all the teams were together in one place. It was therefore a good indication of how the cars will perform over the season, bearing in mind that the race results will also depend on the interaction or otherwise during the actual races. A season without controversy, incident and or emotion is highly unlikely.
So to the facts, what were the days results. 29 drivers took to the track in morning and afternoon sessions under cloudy but dry conditions on the 2.25 mile (3.62km) Silverstone International circuit.
The morning session saw the debut of Excelr8’s Hyundai i30N’s, with drivers Chris Smiley and Senna Proctor. Having entered part way through 2019 the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50’s are set for a full season with 2017 Champion Ashley Sutton and Aiden Moffat as drivers. Nicolas Hamilton returns to the BTCC in 2020 in a bright red Volkswagen CC for ROKiT Racing with Team Hard. At the end of the session it was Jake Hill in the MB Motorsport (accelerated by Blue Square) Honda Civic Type R that showed the fastest lap, closely followed by Andrew Jordan’s Team BMW 330iM Sport and Tom Ingram’s Toyota Corolla (Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters. The top fourteen drivers lap times were all within 1 second of Jake Hills’ time.
The second session proved even more competitive. Tom Ingram improved on his session 1 times to take fastest lap with Jake Hill a mere 0.05 sec behind and Dan Cammish (Honda Civic Type R – Halfords Yuasa Racing) in third. Other drivers made improvements resulting in 16 drivers being within a second of the top time.
Combining the times from the two sessions it was Tom Ingram who took the top slot, Jake Hill second and Dan Cammish third. The fourth slot went to Rory Butcher, 2019 independent drivers’ champion, in the new Ford Focus ST for Motorbase Performance, closely followed in 5th by Colin Turkington (BMW 330i M Sport – Team BMW), 2019 and four time champion.
All the indicators are that it will be another close season and one that promises the exciting racing for which the BTCC is renown.
The rescheduled season will now have its first three round race event at the very fast Thruxton circuit over the weekend of 16th/17th May. Let’s hope the current situation will be over by then and we can enjoy some top level motorsport.
For more images of the launch event go to; BTCC 2020 Season Launch, Silverstone.