Photo credit: Phil Laughton Photography
BTCC is here! The sound of roaring engines, the smell of burning rubber and teams completing last-minute tweaks to their cars.
After a fantastic year in the Subaru Levorg, expectations are high for this season. What was supposed to be a test season last year turned out to be much more than that with podiums and pole positions and a racing machine that was quick not only on the straights but also in the corners, due to the low centre of gravity of the Boxer engine. There are new regulations meaning Team BMR have had to make quite a few changes to the car to even the playing ground.
Jeff Smith (Honda Civic/Eurotech Racing) topped the qualifying round with Tom Ingram (Toyota Avensis/Speedworks Motorsport) less than 0.06 of a second behind. The Subaru Levorgs failed to make a top 10 qualifying time. Jason Plato qualified 18th on the grid with Ash Sutton at 22nd, James Cole 27th and new Team BMR driver Josh Price in 31st. Although this seems like a big gap for Team BMR, all qualifying times were one and a half seconds apart, so all is not lost.
In race one Jason Plato charged up the grid to finish 12th. Ash Sutton climbed up the grid to finish from 22nd to 16th. Josh Price also had an impressive race for his first drive in the BMR Subaru Levorg, climbing a few positions to 24th.
Race two ended quickly for Plato with a crash on the start line after contacting with Matt Simpson’s (Honda Civic/Team Dynamics) Honda on the grid and heading into the pit wall. This was the last of racing for Plato at this round. He is thankfully ok, having been checked at the medical centre for concussion. The race was restarted due to a red flag and Gordon Shedden took pole position. Ashley Sutton was also unfortunate and ended up in the gravel on the 19th lap. James finished 21st and Josh finished 24th.
With just two of the Subaru Racing Levorgs remaining in the race, Ash stuck his elbows out and fought his way through and up into a very impressive 13th place until the last lap and last corner of Clark Curve, when contact with Taylor-Smith resulted in him tumbling back down the order to a finishing place of 21st with Josh bringing his car home in 24th, his third finish of the day.
Team owner Warren Scott has since stated that he is confident the team and Subaru Levorgs will bounce back for Donington Park with a lot of work already underway.
He summed up the weekend as follows: “The first three rounds were a disappointing start to the 2017 championship for us but we are pleased to take away some positives with a few points from Jason’s 12th place finish. Our new drivers Ash and Josh showed great progression throughout the weekend and James had two good races which we are confident will transform into good results for the team as the season progresses.”
Here’s to a fantastic weekend of racing at Donington Park on 15th & 16th April!
Subaru will be at Donington Park displaying a range of vehicles from our local dealers, so come along and say hello. There will also be driver autograph signing sessions – we’ll be announcing times for these over the weekend on our social media channels:
If you like what you see you can find out more about the Subaru Levorg, starting from £29,995