ADVANTAGE MOTORBASE PERFORMANCE/FORD IN MANUFACTURERS’/CONSTRUCTORS’ STANDINGS
Motorbase Performance/Ford moved into the lead of the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ Championship during Rounds 11, 12 and 13 of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship team Oulton Park (12 June) after a consistently strong weekend for NAPA Racing UK team-mates Ash Sutton and Dan Cammish.
Reigning BTCC Champion Sutton continued his terrific podium momentum from the previous event at Thruxton, racing to the runner-up spot in Rounds 10 and 11. He departed Cheshire third in the Drivers’ Standings with NAPA Racing UK second in the Teams’ Championship.
Qualifying fifth-fastest, the Ford Focus ST driver duly converted it into his fifth podium of the campaign. Moving into fourth at Island Bend on lap one, an even more impressive pass there on lap nine sealed third place. On lap 15, a move on the outside of Cascades and into Island ensured second.
From the front row in the second contest, Sutton pushed hard over the opening laps to pressure pole-starter Tom Ingram. In the end, settling for second, Sutton also took the coveted bonus point for the fastest lap.
Unfortunately, he was struck with bad luck during the final encounter, when a first-lap multi-car incident forced the #1 car into the pit lane, dropping him down the order. The 29-year-old then carved his way back through the pack to 16th at the flag.
Cammish began race one, his landmark 100th BTCC start, from seventh on the grid and was into P6 by the end of lap four, he took fifth on lap 11 but was then edged back to sixth on lap 15. A post-race penalty for Gordon Shedden moved Cammish back up to fifth.
Starting Round 11 from the head of the third row, he maintained position until lap ten when contact at Island Bend elbowed Cammish to sixth where he stayed.
Lining up seventh on the partially-reversed grid for race three, the NAPA Racing UK driver started well and controlled his car impressively after taking a significant knock when competitors sought to avoid the lap one accident at Hill Top. Remaining seventh to the flag on lap 18, he was elevated into sixth due to a penalty for Ricky Collard.
Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan’s Sam Osborne started off his weekend strongly, narrowly missing his target top 15 in qualifying, and from 16th on the grid in the opener he initially made his way forward through the pack, but contact on lap 13 would drop him back to 19th, where he would conclude the race.
During the second race, Osborne made progress during the early exchanges, climbing to 18th, but he ultimately finished in 21st place – just pipping the Vauxhall of Ash Hand on the line after they traded paint out of Lodge for the final time. Round 12 had an even more vexing conclusion when his Ford was forced to retire following an off on lap six.
Team-mate Ollie Jackson shared similar fortunes across the first two races, starting well from 18th on the grid and moving into the points-paying positions prior to the Safety Car period. With the two Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan cars running together in the thick of the action, Jackson was then bundled down the order on lap ten and finished 20th.
Putting together a great opening lap in race two, Jackson gained four places to move into 16th spot, but things soon unravelled, and he ended a tough contest in 24th place. After making some changes to the set-up, the car was much improved for the third race of the day and he delivered a fantastic drive from 24th on the grid into 14th position – racing hard against the likes of title contenders Sutton and Jake Hill.
“To score two podium finishes is mega but it’s a little bittersweet as the hard work of races one and two was slightly undone by the result in race three,” admitted Sutton. “That said, we’re still in the mix towards the top of the standings and that’s what it’s about at this stage. Huge credit has to go to the whole NAPA Racing UK team, that is the best the car has felt in race trim this season – we’re really starting to find the sweet spot now with the Ford.
“I’m looking forward to heading up to Croft next as it’s a circuit I’ve always enjoyed and one that the car should go well around. I’m confident we should be strong and I’ll be gunning for that first win of the season.”
“The team has done a great, consistent job again and it’s great to get some points on the board with three strong results,” added Cammish. “We missed that last little bit of speed, but made the best of what we had all weekend and we’ve moved up the championship which is important after so much bad luck so far this season. Hopefully we can make a bigger step at Croft and be back in the fight for the podium there.”
“We were fighting hard for the first two races,” said Jackson. “I made good starts and got some places, but the car wasn’t where we wanted it. We made a couple of changes to the car for race three and it was transformed, I could fight through and stay there. It was nice to be competing with a couple of quick people coming through as well and I think the changes we made will make a difference for Croft too, helping to improve the weight distribution in the car.”
“We’re making progress, the results don’t reflect what we achieved,” said Osborne. “The way we keep developing the car is amazing, the team is doing some incredible work. The raw pace in the car over one lap is there, we just have a bit more to do with the race set-up. I’m in that curse around the top 15 at the minute. I’m looking forward to Croft now, hopefully, we can go well like last year.”
Croft Circuit, near Darlington in North Yorkshire, will host Rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the BTCC season just over one week from now over the weekend of 25/26 June. During the two days prior to the Croft meeting, NAPA Racing UK driver Dan Cammish will appear at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed as part of BTCC title sponsor Kwik Fit’s presence at the world-renowned event.