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Motorbase Performance maintains title tilt at Croft

Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship team Motorbase Performance concluded the first half of the 2022 season with a character-building event at Croft Circuit (25/26 June), as NAPA Racing UK held onto second in the Teams’ battle.

Having qualified seventh on the grid for the opener in North Yorkshire, reigning champion Ash Sutton set about making his way through the pack ahead in race one, launching his Ford Focus ST into sixth, but would stick in the spot until the chequered flag, having struggled to get past his rivals ahead.

Round 14 became a similar affair, with the #1 car once again taking P6.

Lining up seventh on the grid for the final contest, Sutton aimed to secure more vital championship points and was challenging for sixth by the end of the first tour. Contact into Clervaux on the following lap led to damage and a limp back to the pits for the 28-year-old, who rejoined the pack four laps down to finish 26th.

Dan Cammish, in action at Croft after two days representing NAPA Racing UK and BTCC Title Sponsor Kwik Fit at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, saw no reversal in his luck on Saturday, when an off during Free Practice 2 hampered his qualifying session.

Starting Round 13 on Sunday from a frustrating 14th on the grid, Cammish ended the race – which featured two Safety Car periods – in 13th place having gained a position late on.

The Leeds-born racer would move up a spot during a strong opening lap in the second bout, but eventually lost the spot to the Honda of Gordon Shedden.

From 13th on the grid for race three, Cammish delivered an excellent drive to take eighth at the chequered flag. Gaining places from the off, he was into the top ten by the third tour and, with two laps to go, grabbed eighth at Sunny In.

From P19, misfortune on only the second lap of race one saw contact for Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan driver Ollie Jackson put him off the track heavily into the barriers at Sunny Out.

Team-mate Sam Osborne, meanwhile, struggled to make the progress he’d hoped for and finished the 18-lap contest 21st.

With a lot to do from 27th on the grid in race two in his repaired Ford Focus ST, Jackson produced a sensational start and opening lap to gain no fewer than six places. Racing hard throughout, and dicing with team-mate Osborne in a tightly packed group, the pair took turns ahead of the other with Osborne eventually finishing in 19th spot just ahead of Jackson.

In the final race before the annual mid-season break, Jackson put together another great first lap to climb into 17th spot from 20th and, after Sutton’s incident, gained another place. Although edged back soon after, he regained 16th before improving to 15th on the last lap, taking the final championship point up for grabs.

Osborne slipped outside the top 20 on lap one but hit back to move back into 19th after a few laps, in the end settling for P20.

Motorbase Performance/Ford heads into the annual summer break third in the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ Standings, while NAPA Racing UK remains second in the Teams’ Championship with Sutton holding fourth in the Drivers’ battle.

“It’s been a similar weekend to Oulton Park where we’ve had two solid points finishes and then seen that hard work become undone in race three,” said Sutton. “We only had one lap in qualifying, so I was happy to start off seventh and then in races one and two we just kept out of trouble to pick up solid points. To come away with nothing in race three is frustrating but we’ve just got to dust ourselves down and go again.”

“I’m glad we could end the weekend with a decent finish in race three,” added Cammish. “It felt good to make some solid progress and especially after how the weekend started with the issue in FP2 and then losing out in qualifying. Overtaking was almost impossible in the first two races, we just couldn’t get on as we needed to, but everyone at Motorbase and NAPA Racing UK kept pushing to try and improve things. There’s more work to do before Knockhill, but I know we’ll get there.”

“Race three was a good way to finish what was, again, another mixed weekend for us,” reflected Jackson. “It’s good to have been able to gain a few places and finish in the points, but it was tough as overtaking was pretty difficult. Our day started off badly in the barriers after contact in race one, but the guys in the team worked as hard as ever and did a great job to get the car repaired for race two. Hopefully we can make some progress during the summer break and come back stronger at Knockhill.”

“It was a tough weekend,” admitted Osborne. “We’d been suffering with the front end, so it was hard work just to keep up. We keep trying different things with the set-up but we’re not quite there, so the five-week break before Knockhill is well needed so we can scratch our heads and see if we can come up with a solution. The races were relatively clean for us this weekend, but just not the results we wanted.”

Knockhill Circuit in Fife, Scotland, will play host as the BTCC season resumes in just under four weeks’ time, over 30/31 July.

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