SUTTON SETS SUPERB BENCHMARK AT DONINGTON PARK
Three-time BTCC champion Ash Sutton has set a stellar benchmark lap time in the opening Free Practice session of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Donington Park.
The NAPA Racing UK star had already clocked a time within 0.002s of Jake Hill’s qualifying lap record from last season, before the Ford Focus driver improved even further to pull clear of the chasing pack with a stunning 1:07.975s effort.
Sutton became a proud father for the first time earlier this week, which the 29-year-old confirmed worked out just in time for him to take part in the BTCC curtain raiser.
“I’m glad the baby made an appearance early and threw in a couple purple sectors!” beamed Sutton.
“In terms of our performance in FP1, it’s not a bad way to start the year. I’m surprised myself to be honest, but it felt good – a few things to work on but out of the box, good.
“The new surface has probably played a big part in why there has been a lap time jump.”
The quartet of West Surrey Racing-run BMWs enjoyed a promising opening to the campaign with Colin Turkington, Jake Hill, Stephen Jelley and Adam Morgan ending up second, third, sixth and seventh respectively.
Ricky Collard impressed late on as he fired his TOYOTA Gazoo Racing UK machine up to fourth on the timesheets, just ahead of NAPA Racing UK’s Dan Rowbottom.
Dan Cammish proved the prowess of the Ford Focus as he ensured NAPA Racing UK had three cars inside the top eight, whilst rookie Ronan Pearson produced an eye-catching debut run to pip BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 team-mate Tom Chilton to ninth.
Reigning champion Tom Ingram didn’t have such an enjoyable opening to his title defence as his Hyundai came to a halt on-track, bringing out the first red flag of the new season.
“We were moving and then we weren’t,” said a relaxed Ingram. “We are just trying to work out what has gone on.”
All 27 cars took part in the session, including Jade Edwards’ Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD Cupra after the build of her brand new machine was completed on the eve of the season.
Free Practice 2 takes place at 1215 before Qualifying for Round 1 of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship commences at 1540 and will be streamed LIVE via the ITV Sport YouTube page.
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Free Practice 1 – Donington Park
1. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK 1:07.975s
2. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +0.464s
3. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +0.610s
4. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.666s
5. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +0.673s
6. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +0.750s
7. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +0.756s
8. Dan Cammish, NAPA Racing UK +0.883s
9. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.891s
10. Tom Chilton, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.903s
11. George Gamble, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +1.078s
12. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +1.124s
13. Aiden Moffat, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +1.166s
14. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils + 1.267s
15. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +1.335s
16. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +1.340s
17. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +1.801s
18. Jack Butel, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +1.931s
19. Dexter Patterson, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +1.947s
20. Nic Hamilton, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +2.162s
21. Mikey Doble, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +2.252s
22. Nick Halstead, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +2.314s
23. Will Powell, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +2.776s
24. Jade Edwards, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +8.482s
25. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing NO TIME
26. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 NO TIME
27. Bobby Thompson, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils NO TIME