It was a sodden morning at Brands Hatch as Henry Neal set the pace in Free Practice for the TCT / TCR UK Series. Neal, driving the TCT spec Honda Civic Type R, set a 57.135 on his tenth lap, remaining on top after a quick red flag. Neal had started the session slow, initially going fourth after the opening run, but soon found the grip to beat TCR's James Turkington by 0.052 seconds.
Turkington had set the early pace as the rain continued to lash down on the 1.2 miles circuit. Dropping below the 1 minute threshold, he set a 57.227 before pitting to analyse the data. Nick Halstead had been the surprise early in the session, jumping up to second briefly before TCR UK championship leader Lewis Kent dropped the Hook driver down a position.
It was a new experience for Turkington who had only driven the Cupra TCR at Brands Hatch for the first time yesterday. This inexperience showed, as the Ciceley Motorsport driver beached his car in the gravel at Druids with eight minutes to run. He had completed nine laps before the mistake.
This brought out the red flag as Turkington was towed back to the pits.
With a few minutes for drivers to get their setup sorted, every driver, bar Turkington, headed back onto track, though no improvements were made. Kent’s 57.414 on the fourth lap proved to be the best he could manage. Carrying full ballast into the weekend, the Essex & Kent Motorsport driver will be hoping to maximise his result as Nick Halstead ended up 4th, under four tenths behind the leader, Neal.
Stewart Lines would finish fifth on his debut with a time of 57.801 for Maximum Motorsports. The Cupra TCR beat Darelle Wilson’s Opel Astra TCR, who after recording his first podium of the year at Croft, will be looking to build on his success, setting a 58.219. Rounding out the grid was Alex Day with a time of 58.850, struggling to adapt his Audi A4 to the conditions.