12th April 1998 - RTCC first official pre-season test, Silverstone Full Circuit
The entire RTCC circus rocked up at Silverstone for a first glimpse of who will swim, and who will sink. Hermann Mann managed to pull himself out of the Jacuzzi and the semi-naked girls (Silvio Bersceloni's treat), and was sat at the back of the Zakspeed garage. Team Wales turned a few heads when the mechanics turned up sporting large Welsh flag capes over their uniform, and then proceeded to shear some sheep that had somehow found ther way into Hywel Jones' Accord. Manzx T.A.R.T. drivers Douglas Mann, Ben Fleet and Martin McFry arrived at the paddock in, according to an eye-witness, a 'Silver Doorwedge that appeared in a cloud of smoke, fire, and vulgarisms'. McFry was later heard to exclaim: "Bloody flux capacitor. We've been to Silverstone 10 times, but they weren't in the right bathplugging time frame..." and apparently was clutching a Juan Manuel Fangio signed leather cap and a "Kay Lon Blows" T-Shirt. The local B&Q did good business as several teams purchased Gaffa tape and a large bucket of Polyfilla to dodgily rebadge their cars. Martini Nissan Racing arrived in a haze of vanity, and their big-name drivers proceeded to have a punch-up over who was better. The only sound coming from The Good Will Out (Race You) team garage was that of the album they were crappily plugging being blared out across the paddock.
Once all the teams he atmosphere was good, the weather was pleasant, and even the guy selling hookie RTCC merchandise in the paddock did suprisingly good business. (A Catalin Georghiu-signed Astral T-Shirt, anyone? Just 75 quid...)
French-German Michael Prost proceeded to set the fastet time out on the track, the Team Ultimate Fords looking good. Rumour has it the car is so bright that it even hurts blind people's eyes...
Rickard Rydell looked good in the MNR, but lost it half way around his lap
Rck Tyryn looked good in the Honda, as he momentarily topped the timesheets with a sterling effort.
Audi Team Phoenix announced their presence in the paddock with a lap of German effiency from Briton Jody Radcliffe, jumping straight to the top of the time sheets.
Douglas Mann could only manage 17th, the highest place Manx effort
Both Kickerts looked good, getting into the top 10.
Team Ultimate BMW, driven by Rob Collard, goes top with a stunning lap.
Nurmester was last with a time 2seconds of the pace. With his team-mate only 4 positions better off, there looked like a whole lot of work for the Nurminen Engineering boys to do. Maybe the flat-pack Volvo S40 wasn't such a good idea after all.....
Jody Radcliffe went back on top before retiring to the garage as the track quitened down.
Ben Fleet in the T.A.R.T. Vectra all alone out on track
"Racing for Belgium" the footwell of the ECB Peugeot proudly announces, as De Bock is on a hot lap.
John Thorne looking good, getting his Prism up into 12th place.
Fabrizio Giovanardi was down in 35th position , but a good lap from the Italian put him in 16th place.
The track was crowded in the dying minutes of the session, as Robert Anderson puts in a mesmorising lap to go 3rd!!!TESTING RESULTS
Team Ultimate top the timesheets then with a good lap from Michael Prost. With Rob Collard 4th in the BMW and Cave Johnson 5th in the other Mondeo. Jody Radcliffe in the Phoenix Audi turns it in 2nd. A wonderful lap from Robert Anderson puts the Team Wales Accord in 3rd position, but the Hondas overall look strong. The Kickert Motorsports Vectra looks good, with Pieter Kickert in 6th and Zimmer in 8th. John Thorne in the Prism Nissan must be feeling good, going faster than the three works Nissans. A good yet lacklustre performance for MNR on the whole, with Cleland and Rydell in 14th and 15th, and Giovanardi slotting in 16th. T.AR.T. will be dissapointed with this performance, Douglas Mann only managing 21st, Ben Fleet 28th and Martin McFry 34th. Towards the back of the grid, ECB needs to break into the top 20 if they want to make Belgium proud. Nothing was expected from Sweetcorn Motorsports and nothing was delivered, Garry Jones going 33rd fastest. Percival Carrington- Smythe was either: a) dreadfully slow or b)having toilet trouble as he managed to go slowest in the Renault Laguna, which is capable of going faster.
After the test, all the teams were invited to dinner in a field next to the Sweetcorn Motorsports hospitality unit ( a 20 year old Sprite caravan). Unsurprisingly, the meal was sweetcorn based: corn on the cob starter with Roast Mutton (courtesy of Team Wales) and sweetcorn for the main course. TGWORY brought Yorkies, Zakspeed brought Jagermeister (Hermann Mann was very pleashed) Taiwan Motorsport brought dodgy DVDs and MNR brought vanity and violence. Which was only made worse by the Jagermeister. What a season this is shaping up to be