HMS Racing’s Rob Austin threw-down the gauntlet at Donington Park earlier this week by launching his new Alfa Romeo Giulietta to P1 in the official test session for the championship’s Season Launch.
After the assembled grid of 2018 paraded in the pit lane, all eyes switched to the timing screens and the on-track action to see who would emerge to claim the first bragging rights.
Austin has looked ever more rapid and confident throughout the pre-season but as most who know will tell, the real test of pace and stamina can only be proven after next weekend’s opening rounds at Brands Hatch. There’s much to lose in the BTCC by showing your hand too early, yet clearly, much for the hardened fans to applaud as Austin delivered the hope of a great new era for the Italian marque.
Elsewhere, it was the trio of works BMWs that made the most of WSR’s proven pace and reliability to remind us of their title credentials and ambitions. Andrew Jordan showed-off another loud and proud Pirtek livery whilst Rob Collard explored every inch of tarmac and kerb in a display of enduring and dogged determination.
But as so often has been the case, it was Colin Turkington, the quietly spoken Ulsterman, who emerged the one to watch; easing himself into P3 with an unflinching series of laps, so sending-out the message that the man wearing #2 has every intention of trading-up at the end of the year.
Here are twenty of our favourite images from the day; there’ll be plenty more as the season gets underway.
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