Reigning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car champion Ashley Sutton set the pace in testing at Thruxton, dipping under the qualifying lap record in his BMR Racing Subaru Levorg.

Giving teams the opportunity to rack up the miles around the Hampshire venue ahead of the third event of the year on May 19/20, a total of 25 drivers hit the track for two sessions as part of the annual TOCA test.

With qualifying simulations and race runs the priority for many, the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver emerged as the pace setter.

Cold track conditions greeted the grid but that didn’t stop them from turning the wick, with Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher’s Tom Chilton being the first to set an unofficial lap record in the morning session, lapping the 2.36 mile layout in a time of 1:15.979.

Sutton went even quicker in the afternoon session however, hustling his rear-wheel-drive machine to a time 1:15.717, three tenths of a second quicker than the existing lap record and pole time set by Matt Neal in 2017.

Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing’s Mike Bushell ended the afternoon second on the time sheets with Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal and WIX Racing with Eurotech’s Jack Goff setting rapid times too.

Both Neal and Goff encountered troubles during the day with the triple champion battling throttles issues in the morning and Brands Hatch race winner Goff suffering a power steering problem early in the afternoon.

Rounding out the top five of the combined classification was Team GardX Racing’s Sam Tordoff. In total, seven drivers were quicker than last year’s pole position time.

For the full classification of results from the day’s two testing sessions, click here.

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heads to Thruxton on May 19/20 for rounds seven, eight and nine of the 2018 campaign.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jakob Ebrey Photography