It was Jac Constable who set the benchmark in the Goodyear Touring Car Trophy / TCR UK, setting a time of 1min 27.966 to lead at the end of Free Practice. The 23-year-old has been going from strength to strength this season and will be eager to build upon this result come qualifying later today.
The roar of the TCR engines would light up the Cheshire countryside early Saturday morning with Bruce Winfield leading the pack out of the pits. Lewis Kent would set the early benchmark, but Winfield was not prepared to be out-done so easily, setting a 1min 29.273 before the halfway stage, ensuring he gapped both Essex & Kent Motorsport drivers.
Bradley Kent would be the next to respond before Jac Constable added to the merry-go-round atop the standings. Constable would further improve his benchmark, being the first driver to drop below the 1min 28sec barrier and holding a gap over the competition.
Elsewhere, quick laps for Dan Kirby in the Power Maxed Racing Cupra TCR SEQ and teammate William Butler would see the pair join Constable inside the top three. The tight and twisty layout of the Oulton Park circuit, combined with the championship weight that the Hyundai’s were carrying ensured that the order appeared jumbled up at the end of Free Practice, with points leader Kent down in eighth.
There was not much to separate the drivers at the end of the session, with under 3 seconds splitting first to thirteenth.
It’s not the first time this year that Constable has topped a session, though his efforts will not go unrewarded as he looks to claim his maiden pole position of the weekend. Following his time, just 0.116 seconds behind was Alex Morgan. The former TCR Europe race-winner remained coy for much of practice going out for the final five minutes in order to bag a convincing second place and pose himself as a threat for qualifying.
Dan Kirby would complete the unique top three, which for the first time this season was all Cupra’s. First and third for Power Maxed will be a confidence boost heading into the weekend as limited time between each session ensures that any advantage at this early stage could carry over into the racing.
Winfield would regain fourth thanks to a late lap, just 0.22 seconds off pace setter Constable, rounding up the run of Cupra’s in his DSG gearboxed #37. A prominent qualifier, the defending Civic Cup champion will be one-to-watch later, especially if he can launch his car in the same vein as Brands Hatch, where he took an early race lead on two occasions.
Max Hart would end the session in fifth for the Maximum Motorsport team. While he was the highest placed Hyundai i30, the 19-year-old will be slightly disappointed as to not be closer to the benchmark after putting on a new set of tyres late on to improve his situation.
Butler would eventually drop to sixth but remained in front of the Essex & Kent Motorsport Hyundai’s who both pitted early, putting their thoughts towards the more important session later. On his return to the series, Hugo Cook would finish the session ninth as Darron Lewis rounded out the top ten in the sole TCT entry, a Mercedes A Class NGTC.
You can watch all the sessions live over on the Goodyear Touring Car Trophy and TCR UK YouTube and Facebook pages. Keep up with our social media for further championship updates and driver interviews from our Oulton Park stars. Race one starts at 13:35 UK time on Saturday 17th July 2021.
Results can be found on TSL Timing