Fabrizio Giovanardi produced the quickest time during official HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship testing at Brands Hatch, with the Italian becoming the first person to finally beat Yvan Muller's long-standing lap record.
Muller's time, posted back in 2001, had survived for almost eight years but fell during the morning session as Giovanardi turned in a storming lap of 48.835secs at the wheel of his VX Racing Vectra. Giovanardi wasn't the only person to dip below Muller's benchmark however, as both Jonathan Adam and Rob Collard also went quicker than 49.942secs during the course of the day.
Giovanardi was second quickest in the afternoon behind Collard, but his morning benchmark stood to leave him at the top of the pile at the end of the test.
Having lost valuable track time at Rockingham last week when the diff failed on his Airwaves BMW, Adam was a stunning second quickest during the morning and was the only driver aside from Giovanardi to break the 49sec barrier. Although he dropped down the order during the afternoon session, his morning time left him second overall at the end of the day and just 0.003secs clear of Collard, who showed the potential of the Motorbase-run outfit by setting the third quickest time – and fastest of the afternoon.
“Today's results in testing at Brands Hatch were very positive,” team boss David Bartrum said. “As it's our local track we are always confident of running well here, and we know it also favours the strengths of the BMW 320si. However, both Jonny and Rob really kicked it up a gear and showed that they will be serious contenders for race honours when the real action starts.
“In the morning we set up Jonny for pure speed and Rob worked through a programme of different settings. In the afternoon we switched that around and the results speak for themselves, both drivers really underlined their ability when given the opportunity to go for it. Now everyone at Airwaves BMW is looking forward to the first round at Brands and we hope we can put on a great show for the fans at our home round.”
Behind the top three, Matt Neal enjoyed a solid day for Vauxhall and was fourth quickest overall ahead of Gordon Shedden in the first of the Team Dynamics Honda Civics. The top six was filled out by the Team RAC BMW of Stephen Jelley who displayed the kind of pace that saw him take pole position for the 2008 season finale with another solid showing in the car – outpacing team-mate Colin Turkington who was eighth quickest.
Sandwiching the BMW pair was the third works Vauxhall in the hands of youngster Andy Jordan, while the top ten was completed by Harry Vaulkhard's Chevrolet and the second Dynamics Honda of race veteran Dave Pinkney. Vaulkhard had endured a tough morning with a trip into the gravel that led to the session being briefly halted.
John George was eleventh quickest in the TH Motorsport with JAG Honda Integra as he returned to the scene of his monster shunt from last year, while Tom Chilton was twelfth in Team Aon's new Ford Focus. Martyn Bell was 13th for Sunshine.co.uk with Tech-Speed, with Martin Johnson and Liam McMillan rounding out the 15 drivers to take part in the session.
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