Having achieved the mammoth task of building the four new Subaru Levorg GT sport tourers in just 87 days, we arrived at the circuit having only completed a very short shakedown session on one of the machines and were entering the unknown on Saturday morning with the weekend being utilised to develop the cars.
The plan for the free practice sessions on Saturday was to run all four cars on different set ups to gather as much information as possible in order to obtain valuable data to put us in the best possible position for qualifying later on in the afternoon.
The whole team were pleased with the overall qualifying results with Colin Turkington achieving the highest placed position out of the four drivers after a monumental effort, with just 30 seconds remaining on the clock, he shot up the order to an outstanding 11th place. Jason Plato, Warren Scott and James Cole were all close together qualifying 23rd, 27th and 29th.
The team continued with their preparation schedule working late into the night in order to be fully prepared for the challenge that awaited them on the first race day of the 2016 season the following morning.
As dawn broke an excited Brands Hatch crowd filled the Kent venue on Sunday morning for the opening race of the year.
With all four cars ready to start the race Warren incurred damage to a development part on the green flag lap which again proved to the team that this first weekend was more about learning the cars rather than pushing it to the max and grabbing points.
Colin gained damage from contact with a fellow competitor at Graham Hill bend early on in the race and was subsequently forced to come in for repairs. The decision was taken to retire the car from the race to ensure that everyone had plenty of time to have the number 4 machine fixed and ready for Race 2 later in the afternoon. Both Jason and James completed the race, albeit some way down the order, with Jason finishing in 21st and James in 25th. The race was won by Speedworks Tom Ingram as the two Halfords Yuasa team mates completed the other podium positions.
For Race 2 the drivers lined up on the grid in the order that they finished the opening race, placing Jason 23rd and James 25th. Both Colin and Warren’s car repairs were complete and they would line up in 26th and 32nd.
All four got off to a great start, however Colin was caught out in the latter stages of the race along with a whole host of other drivers when oil was spilt onto the circuit at Graham Hill bend dropping him back down the order.
The second race of the day showed that the car had made real progress as Jason attained the 2nd fastest lap time of the race. Gordon Shedden took the victory with fellow team mate Matt Neal following in 2nd with Aron Smith taking the 3rd spot on the podium and taking a maiden independent win for new to the series Team BKR.
Race 3 brought a fantastic end to the day for the team with Colin scoring points and bringing his Subaru Levorg home in 12th place. Jason finished in 16th with James 18th and Warren in 19th place. It was great to see all four cars running competitively and all gaining ground from their starting positions.
Everyone here at Subaru Silverline BMR Racing are pleased with the progress of the Subaru Levorgs during their first weekend of racing and we now look forward to Donington Park in just two weeks’ time, where we will be aiming to further develop the four machines.
Colin Turkington said: “Brands Hatch was a real success in my eyes. I was able to qualify just outside the top ten, make progress through the field in all three races, constantly improve lap times and score a handful of points. The car has come out of the box incredibly strong but not by chance. The work done by Subaru Silverline BMR Racing has been nothing short of exceptional. I really enjoyed driving the Levorg and am expecting great success to come our way.”
Jason Plato said:“What a weekend… what a debut for Subaru Silverline BMR Racing! Our plan was to shoot for reliability, collect data, develop the car but most of all to finish races. To score points on our debut was the icing on the cake for the monumental effort that everyone at the team has put in since December. We can take great positives from the weekend, we even witnessed a glimpse of real pace at this early stage of development in the Levorg as I posted the second fastest lap in Race 2 which was only just over 1 tenth of a second off the fastest lap.
“We should be so so proud. A huge thank you to everyone that has helped in the birth of our baby! Special mentions also should go to our partners Subaru, Silverline Tools and Adrian Flux Insurance, without their support none of this could happen. I would also like to personally thank Warren Scott for his total support and vision. BTCC Championship Trophy….. We’re coming to get you!"
James Cole said: “Now having time to reflect on a manic 1st weekend of the BTCC my main feelings are of pride for Subaru Silverline BMR Racing and excitement for the year ahead. Such a massive achievement by the whole team to design and build 4 cars in such a short amount of time and have all 4 running almost faultlessly is nothing short of amazing.
“For myself jumping back into a RWD I automatically felt straight at home, I wish it was Donington Park tomorrow!! We can all see the potential in the Subaru Levorg and can see the team moving further up the grid in no time!”
Warren Scott said: “I am extremely proud of each and every team member at Subaru Silverline BMR Racing with what we have achieved this weekend. The team has worked incredibly hard with very little sleep over the last few weeks and they’ve all pulled together to produce an incredible package.
“We have made some progress this weekend and other than my car having a small mechanical issue with a development part in the first race, the cars have proved to be reliable and we’ve had the added bonus of scoring some points which we didn’t expect to happen in the opening rounds.”
Rounds 4, 5 and 6 of the 2016 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will take place at Donington Park on 16/17 April.
To learn more about the Subaru Levorg sport tourer, visit www.subaru.co.uk.