Topping the Milltek Civic Cup Free Practice session at Brands Hatch was Jamie Tonks. The 37-year-old laid down the gauntlet ahead of the triple-header weekend, with the FastR sponsored Area Motorsport driver setting a 54.194 in the damp and overcast conditions.
Ryan Dalzell was quickest in the early stages of practice, setting a 56.330 before becoming the first driver to drop below the 56 second mark. Times would continue to tumble throughout as Alistair Camp and Jamie Tonks took their time at the top. Such was the rotation of drivers that Dalzell found himself tenth by the time the flag emerged.
Tonks, fresh from his second place at Castle Combe, was quick to stamp his authority, setting a 54.194 before pitting to save a set of his all-weather Goodyear tyres for later in the weekend. Completing just eight laps, it proved more than enough, not only for himself but the rest of the front runners as Camp also came in a lap later.
Robert Butler, a new entry for Brands Hatch was quick to prove he was far from race rusty and had been the third fastest car by the time he decided to pit. Setting a 54.707, the #74 will be an unknown quantity ahead of qualifying.
A late lap by David Buky and Philip Wright saw them leap up to third and fourth respectively, with Wright eager to maintain his form after a spectacular showing at Cadwell earned him a podium on his debut to the Milltek Civic Cup. An experienced Civic racer elsewhere, Wright finished the session seven thousandths off Buky in front.
George Alp-Williams was another of the drivers to pit early, completing just 13 laps. While he would drop to sixth fastest, behind Butler, by the end of Free Practice he had remained one of the quickest while still on track, ensuring that like in the spray of Cadwell Park, the teenager should not be counted out of contention this weekend. Rounding out the top eight behind him were Ryan Bensley and Ben Mills, driving the unique Civic FN2.
The story of the session though was Dan Thackeray, the Type-R Trophy champion of last year only completed a single lap without a representative time.
In the Production Class, age proved no factor as two of the oldest cars on the grid filled out the top two spaces. Built in 2002, Peter Dell was quick to showcase that his #89 Civic had not lost any of its power, setting a 56.843 to set the benchmark from Mervyn Beckett in the 2001 Civic EP3.
Championship leader Beckett had been a force throughout the last round and was quick to showcase why, ending practice just 0.066 seconds behind fellow MJ Motorsport teammate Dell. Once again it was Mark Hughes in third place as the #16 looks to establish himself, with Rhys Lewis just behind. It would be a disappointing session for the Threlfall brothers though with Alfie in fifth and Harry seventh, over a second behind the #89.
Keep up to date with Milltek Civic Cup on our Social Media’s. Qualifying and three races will be Live Streamed on our Facebook and YouTube channels. Qualifying starts at 13:00, with the opening race at 16:00 on Saturday 19th June.
Full Results can be found on TSL Timing.