The 2022 British Touring Car Championship’s pre-season program got underway at Donington Park in Leicestershire, UK, on March 29, with the venue hosting the first of three hybrid installation tests ahead of its season opener on April 23/24.
The test marked the first official outing of the TOCA Hybrid system in 2022, a spec unit developed by Cosworth, which sees the UK’s premier national series become the first major touring car championship in the world to integrate hybrid power, after systems were distributed to all BTCC teams in recent weeks.
All teams were in attendance, with the majority running the hybrid system during the day, while some are still in the process of completing the installation across all their cars. Two further official test days are scheduled at Croft (April 6) and Thruxton (April 13), where it is expected that all cars will run with their hybrid systems.
Although adverse weather caused a delay to the morning session, 22 cars eventually completed nearly 250 laps of the 1.98-mile circuit in total, with West Surrey Racing’s Colin Turkington concluding the truncated session at the top of the times. The afternoon proved more fruitful for teams and drivers, with 23 cars completing more than 2,000 miles of testing.
“It was my first experience of hybrid and you definitely feel a difference in terms of power once you deploy,” said Turkington. “We still have to focus on the handling and the chassis, though, that’s still number one. We want to make the car quicker and make it mechanically better, and with the hybrid system on top of that, we’ll have a fast package.
“Team BMW has worked extremely hard through the winter to make sure we can hit the ground running, so reliability was always going to be a factor to consider, but my car ran faultlessly today which has allowed us to get through our test program. I’m enjoying being back in the saddle, but there’s still lots to learn. We’re all still a bit green on the hybrid side of things and when’s the best moment to use it. It’s still a lot of experimenting and we tried a lot of different solutions today, so it was productive and gives us a lot of data to look through before the next test at Croft.”