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– Thruxton welcomed more than 50 competitors from a multitude of championships for its first pre-season test day
– BTCC, F3, Ginetta, Porsche, Renault Clio, Formula Ford and Historic racers benefitted from extensive wet-and-dry running around high-speed Hampshire circuit

Thruxton opened its gates to a plethora of motor sport machinery on Tuesday (18 February) for a successful first general test day of the year, as the ultra-quick Hampshire circuit races full speed ahead towards an exciting season of on-track action in 2014.

Perhaps as a precursor to the famously fickle British summer, a day of mixed conditions greeted no fewer than 54 competitors from a variety of different championships –all of which will return to the British Automobile Racing Club-run venue over the coming months.

One of the undisputed stars of the show was Honda’s new Civic Tourer, which made its first public appearance ahead of its debut in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this year. Both Matt Neal and Honda Yuasa Racing team-mate Gordon Shedden took turns behind the wheel, whilst defending champion Andrew Jordan and BTCC returnee Martin Depper headed out in Pirtek Racing’s Civic hatchbacks.

Other BTCC attendees included fans’ favourite Rob Austin in ‘Sherman’, his beloved Audi A4, as well as West Surrey Racing’s trio of BMW 125i M Sports for former title-winner Colin Turkington and local heroes Rob Collard and Nick Foster.

Series new boy Marc Hynes and sophomore Sam Tordoff were similarly present in the Triple Eight-run MG6, as were United Autosports Toyota Avensis duo Glynn Geddie and James Cole and Chevrolet Cruze driver Aiden Moffatt, who last year became the youngest driver ever to race in the championship aged just 16.

The immensely popular BTCC will return to Thruxton on 3-4 May, when it will be supported by feeder series in the form of the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, Ginetta Junior Championship, Renault UK Clio Cup, Dunlop MSA Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain and Porsche Carrera Cup GB.

Ginetta teams at Thruxton included former GT Supercup Champions JHR Developments with Pepe Massot in a G55, whilst Century Motorsport fielded similar cars for Jamie Orton and Tom Oliphant, with Luke Davenport present for United Autosports

Jamie Chadwick, Jack Mitchell, car racing rookie Dan Zelos and Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Alex Sedgwick racked up the miles in a quartet of G40s, whilst defending Junior Champions HHC Motorsport ran Duncan Tappy and international kart racer Lando Norris. The Junior contingent was completed by TCR duo Matt Chapman and Jamie Caroline, and R&J Racing trio Ryan Hadfield, Jonathan Hadfield and Ben Pearson.

There was a strong representation from the Renault UK Clio Cup, too, with SV Racing bringing 2014-spec machinery for KX Akademy protégés Ash Hand, Alex Morgan and Ant Whorton-Eales. Josh Files, Mike Bushell and Rob Smith featured for defending champions Team Pyro, whilst 20Ten Racing fielded Josh Cook and Craig Milner as series veteran Lee Pattison took to the circuit with JHR. Ollie Pidgley drove a Team Pyro-prepared Michelin Clio Cup car.

Formula Ford front-runners JTR, Jamun Racing and Falcon Motorsport were all in attendance, the former with Sam Brabham –son of David Brabham and grandson of former Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham – South African Jayde Kruger and Max Marshall. Juan Rosso was the sole Jamun driver, whilst Falcon ran 2013 Scholarship Champion Harrison Scott alongside Chris Mealin and Ricky Collard, son of BTCC ace Rob.

Sportscar star Nick Tandy shook down Porsche’s new Carrera Cup GB 911 GT3 Cup model, whilst F3 –which will visit Thruxton’s fearsomely-fast layout on 16-17 August in the guise of the British F3 Championship –was spearheaded by multiple champions Carlin, whose Volkswagen-powered Dallaras were piloted by reigning Macau Grand Prix winner Alex Lynn and Sam MacLeod. Will Arif and David Gillett shared an older Dallara F3 machine.

In addition to this year’s crop of contenders putting their 2014 steeds through their paces, spectators were treated to a tantalising foretaste of the eagerly-anticipated Easter Revival meeting on 19-20 April. Keith Kenward braved the elements in his Jaguar MkII S-type, Stuart Kestenbaum and Michael O’Brien drove Classic Formula Ford 1600s and Mike Gardiner got behind the wheel of his MkI Lotus Cortina in the iconic Alan Mann Racing colours.

“It was fantastic to see so many drivers out on-track at the test day,” said BARC Business Manager, Ian Watson. “Whilst the weather was mixed, that did give everybody an excellent opportunity to get some practice in for whatever the great British summer may choose to throw at us this year!

“There was a large variety of cars on the circuit, and the feedback from drivers and teams afterwards was that it was a tremendously useful and productive day as they prepare towards the fast-approaching 2014 season.

“Here at the BARC, we are hugely excited about what lies in-store over the coming months, with some high-profile meetings not only at Thruxton, but also at Croft, Pembrey and our two hill-climbing venues of Harewood Hill and Gurston Down. We can’t wait for the racing to get underway.”

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