Saturday eve - In memory

Ahead of the opening race on Sunday, the BTCC grid will join together for a minute of applause in tribute to David Leslie and Richard Lloyd, who were amongst the five people to lose their lives in the plane crash that occurred while the season was kicking off at Brands Hatch last month.

The field will also pay another tribute, with all the cars competing in Sunday's three races carrying stickers in remembrance of two special figures in the BTCC's long history.

Saturday eve - Weighty issues

One noticeable thing on the times after qualifying at Rockingham was the performance of defending champion Fabrizio Giovanardi and Mat Jackson - the top two in the standings after the season opener at Brands Hatch.

Of course, their performance in Kent means both have extra weight onboard this weekend and in both cases it proved to be a key factor in their performance - although Giovanardi wasn't helped when he also lost time stopping at the weigh bridge.

"I lost a lot of time when I had to stop at the weigh bridge, which left me with no time to change my set-up," he said. "We had to run with the wet weather set-up for the remainder of the session and I was unable to improve my time. I was also heavy because of the ballast, but nothing is lost though and I will attack from the back tomorrow."

Giovanardi was tenth on the times, a place behind Jackson - who goes into the weekend two points behind the Italian in the standings.

"We made a bit of an error in the pits which meant we were 30 seconds or so late coming out and missed the window," he said. "The weight we had to carry didn't really help either, but its one of those things. Hopefully we can make up places at the start."

Saturday eve - Three wheels on my wagon

Erkut Kizilirmak was in the wars in qualifying when his Astra Sport Hatch ground to a halt on the exit of Tarzan with the Arkas Racing man ended the session parked up on the side of the circuit.

From the press room it wasn't clear to see what the problem was, but it soon became apparent that three wheels on the car rather than four had seen the demise of the Arkas Racing with man.

"What can I say?" he said after the session. "You need a bit of luck sometimes and these things happen from time to time. Its all part of life but if you look at Brands Hatch last year, I didn't have a good qualifying session and then I didn't get caught up in the accident that happened at the start, so it might not be all bad."

Erkut ended up in 21st on the timesheets which put him just behind team-mate Martyn Bell - who had been forced into an engine change after the second free practice session.

"I'm happy with how it went," he said. "My fastest lap got messed up by Stuart Oliver, but he was going for a lap himself so I don't have a problem with it. The guys did a brilliant job to change the engine as quickly as they did between the sessions so I have to pay tribute to them."

Saturday pm - Double duty for Shedden?

After the season opener at Brands Hatch, Gordon Shedden headed home to Scotland where he then got the chance to join GT team Scuderia Ecosse for a day of running at Knockhill.

The Team Halfords man joined regular drivers Fabio Babini and Jamie Davis for the test in the Ferrari 430 and admits he would love the chance to race the car.

"It would be great to dovetail by BTCC campaign with something in the Ferrari if there wasn't a clash with the touring cars," he said. "With the team being based in Edinburgh, [team boss] Stewart Roden has been promising me a drive in his car for something like three or four years so it was time to cash it in!"

Saturday pm - Don't use the oval...

Fans who attended the British GT finale at Rockingham last season would have seen a number of cars take a trip round the Rockingham oval after out-braking themselves into Deene - the corner where the field drops down off the oval onto the infield section of the circuit.

For that event, cars were allowed to run around the oval and then rejoin the race in the position they had held before their off-track excursion - but the same rules won't apply to the touring car brigade this weekend.

"If people go round the oval, they'll get a two lap penalty," series director Alan Gow said. "If they want to go round the oval and take the penalty then it's their choice but why bother? They can just rejoin the track where they went off."

Saturday pm - Father and Son

Having been forced to run with 'Old Man' and 'Young Man' on their cars at Brands Hatch, Mike and Andrew Jordan have been given new names for the Rockingham weekend by series boss Alan Gow.

This weekend, Mike will run under the banner of 'Dad' with Andrew as 'Son'.

It remains to be seen what will be thrown at the pair when we head to Donington Park.

Saturday am - A jump start?

Anyone who saw the GP2 Asia feature race in Dubai on Friday would have noticed that one car seemed to start the race before any of the others - by quite a noticeable margin.

However, despite being given a drive through penalty, Stephen Jelley insisted he wasn't too quick; everyone else was too slow.

"I didn't jump the start - honestly!" he said. "I went when I should have done, but nobody else did!"

Following an 18th place finish in his final race in the series for ART Grand Prix, it was then a mad dash to make it back to Northamptonshire in time for the first practice session - which he just managed.

"I got here with five minutes to spare I think," he said. "I managed to get some sleep on the plane but then when I got here this morning it was a case of, brush the teeth, get the race suit on and get in the car!"

Jelley was a solid eighth in the first session.

Saturday am - Getting a boost

Micky Doyle would never pretend to be the tallest driver in the BTCC paddock, but only at Rockingham did it become apparent of an issue the young Scot had endured during the opening round at Brands Hatch.

When asked how he felt first practice had gone, Doyle's quick reply was 'Well I can see now'.

The former Clio Cup racer then proudly displayed the 'booster seat' fitted into the InTune Racing Honda Civic to ensure he can see over the steering wheel properly...

Saturday am - Trying too hard

Steven Kane was another man not to complete the first free practice session, after spinning his Motorbase BMW into the gravel trap after just seven laps.

Pushing too hard with a new set-up was the diagnosis from the Northern Irishman, who is looking to build on the form he showed at Brands Hatch two weeks ago.

"We'd made a change to the car and I was meant to go out and do two laps with it to see if it worked," he said. "The only problem was that I only managed to do a lap and a half!

"Coming round the long left-hander behind the pits I just made a slight mistake and lost the back end, and the next thing I knew I was stuck in the gravel."

Saturday am - Early issues for Alonzo

First free practice at Rockingham saw a slow Honda Integra circulating in the hands of Alan Taylor, and it didn't take long for the Robertshaw man to find himself watching from the sidelines.

Initial concerns about a gearbox failure looked like being wrong, with Taylor hopeful of making it out for the second session.

"We think it's a gear selection problem," he said. "At first I thought the gearbox had gone but that's fine so we are just working to fix the issue now. Hopefully we'll have it sorted for the second session.

"It's a bit frustrating to have a problem, I just need some time in the car."



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