Andrew Jordan, Pirteck Racing

Andrew Jordan, Pirtek Racing

Pirtek Racing leads the way ahead of Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden

Andrew Jordan set the pace at today’s (21 March) official BTCC pre-season test, recording the quickest time on Dunlop’s new soft compound tyre in extremely cold conditions at Donington Park.

The reigning Independents’ Champion has set his sights on challenging for overall honours in 2013, and the 23-year-old laid down a marker by pipping double title winner Jason Plato and reigning champion Gordon Shedden.

With Series Director Alan Gow having confirmed a capacity grid of 32 cars during the morning’s media conference, the teams and drivers went on to demonstrate the hugely competitive nature of the championship during the test, as the top three cars were eventually separated by just 0.102s.

Toyota Avensis duo Adam Morgan and Dave Newsham fired their own warning to the rest of the field by claiming fourth and fifth respectively. Matt Neal and MG newcomer Sam Tordoff followed close behind, whilst the new Airwaves Racing Ford Focus of Aron Smith completed the top eight.

Frank Wrathall clocked the ninth fastest time in his Avensis, whilst the highly anticipated return of 2009 Champion Colin Turkington saw him close out the top ten in the striking new BMW M 125i Sport.

Ollie Jackson, who was the last driver to be confirmed on the grid after a late deal with Speedworks, promptly became the first racer to endure an off during the session. Jackson recovered however, whilst Rob Austin’s Audi A4 had to be retrieved from the gravel after his own lurid moment. Addison Lee Motorbase driver Liam Griffin damaged the front end of his Ford Focus after a spin, but ended up fastest of the S2000 competitors, as he edged out James Kaye’s VW Golf by just over a tenth of a second.

Andrew Jordan said: “It has been a really good day. We completed a lot of running and if qualifying for Brands Hatch was happening tomorrow, then we’d be really confident. We’re not overly concerned by the times at this stage of course, but I’m really happy with the changes we made to the car, which definitely improved things towards the end of the day.”

Jason Plato said: “We’re really happy with the running we completed today. Sam and I were on different programmes, which is good, and we got through everything we needed to. We certainly weren’t sandbagging, but I am confident we could have gone as quick as Jordan and we regularly set 1m10.4s throughout the session. We set our best time on used tyres too so we didn’t see the full potential of the car, but none of that really matters until Brands Hatch.”