Tom Ingram sped to the top of the timing sheets at yesterday’s BTCC Media Day test, yet there was little celebration as Silverstone’s clouds darkened over the whole of British motor sport.
Ingram’s pace in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Corolla was never in doubt; the Speedworks man always looking primed to challenge Jake Hill’s early benchmark, but the lunchtime arrival of TOCA’s statement that the first three rounds of this year’s championship would be postponed signalled a deepening of the funding crisis that is already threatening the removal of hard-working drivers and teams from club, national and international grids alike.
Traditionally, this is a day for the fans, a celebration of great weekends to come, but the worsening Coronavirus crisis prevented any public attendance, casting an ever-more subdued mood from one end of the pit lane to the other.
There were occasional glimpses of light: The Excelr8 squad arrived with two very smart and fast Hyundai i30’s, and Rory Butcher showed that Motorbase’s new Focus ST looks much sharper in Racing Red than ‘mellow yellow’ – though not, expectedly, in the hands of the returning Andy Neate.
In previous years, we’ve used the hashtag #thebtcciscoming: For now, we have to make do with #thebtccwillbeback, but how many of those who assembled for the traditional pre-season photo opportunity will be present when racing eventually returns to the fixture list remains to be seen.