Ash Sutton’s Snetterton masterclass
Three-time BTCC champion sets new Qualifying lap record
NAPA Racing UK star Ash Sutton broke the existing qualifying lap record at Snetterton earlier today (20 May) to take pole position for Round 7 of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
It’s a hat-trick of pole positions for NAPA Racing UK, having seen Dan Rowbottom take top spot at the Donington Park season opener, before Dan Cammish repeated the trick at Brands Hatch last time out.
For Sutton, it continues an impressive sequence of qualifying inside the top four in each of the race weekends so far this season, with his blistering 1:54.526s lap time today setting a new benchmark around around the Snetterton 300 layout.
A disrupted session was paused by two red flag spells when firstly Nick Halstead’s BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 car dropped engine fluid on the track, firing a number of unfortunate competitors off the track, before standings leader Cammish then made contact with a barrier when the session restarted.
With the clock ticking down and a number of rivals yet to set a representative lap time there was a flurry of activity in the final moments, although Sutton was again in a class of his own.
Reigning champion Tom Ingram (BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8) proved to be the ‘best of the rest’ as he impressively grabbed second ahead of the chasing BMWs.
Colin Turkington was still full of smiles, however, as he secured third in a session that included contact with a tyre wall due to the aforementioned on-track fluid. The Team BMW man was grateful that his car was still pointing in the right direction and remained in a suitable condition to set a flying lap.
Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) edged out Ricky Collard (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK) for fifth, whilst Team BMW’s Adam Morgan took sixth and Josh Cook (One Motorsport with Starline Racing) hauled his Honda Civic Type R into seventh.
Rory Butcher (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK) had to settle for eighth, with Dan Rowbottom (NAPA Racing UK) and Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) – the latter spinning on his quickest lap of the session – rounding out the top ten.
Ash Sutton, Napa Racing UK, said: “That one means a lot! I have not been on pole for a very, very long time – it’s been on the cards for the first two rounds, too. At Donington Park we had the pace in the car, but just didn’t put the lap together, and at Brands Hatch it was just bad luck involved, so it was nice to be able to do the job here.
“We did our first lap and sat here in the pits, noticed a few people were going quicker again, so went back out and put another lap in. I said to the boys and girls after the session at NAPA Racing UK that that’s the best touring car I’ve ever driven. The car is on absolute rails and that allows me to do the ‘Ash Sutton’ bit! There were a lot of lively moments out there, but that’s how I drive – so for a car to allow me to do that is fantastic and hopefully we can take it into the races tomorrow.”
Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8, said: “It was a tricky session. We were up against it really because Ash [Sutton] managed to get a banker in early doors and after the red flags we hadn’t managed to put a time on the board at all. Although there was cement dust on track, the oil had not actually gone and so we were still coming through the last corner with the car really moving around feeling fairly lairy. P2 on the grid is a good place to be considering the session.
“We’ve ran all the three tyres in pre-season testing, but not in conditions such as this at a sunny Snetterton. We know what the soft tyre will do following Brands Hatch, so we will need to understand what the hard tyre will do especially in hot conditions and how we get the best out of it.”
Colin Turkington, Team BMW, said: “It was a really good result in the end. As I was spinning towards the tyre wall earlier in the session I thought that was game over. It was a good recovery in a really difficult session because of the conditions – I really did not feel I knew the car that I was driving, so I just had to drive slightly beneath the limit because of the grip level and cement on the track. I felt I had to slightly undercook it and make sure I did a lap that there was no mistakes on.
“It was tough conditions out there and we have had a surprisingly really strong headwind on the back straight and it had a massive effect on the car balance into turns one to three, giving us a lot of understeer, so we have been trying to work on the car with the wind. We put the same car on the track which got pole here last year and it was no good at all, so we have done well to turn it around with P3.”
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Snetterton (300)
1. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK 1:54.526s
2. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.342s
3. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +0.428s
4. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +0.527s
5. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.796s
6. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +0.912s
7. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +0.920s
8. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.955s
9. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +0.992s
10. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +1.064s
11. Tom Chilton, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +1.128s
12. George Gamble, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +1.158s
13. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +1.498s
14. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +1.566s
15. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +1.615s
16. Mikey Doble, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +1.641s
17. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +1.896s
18. Bobby Thompson, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +2.007s
19. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +2.208s
20. Dexter Patterson, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +2.377s
21. Jack Butel, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +2.390s
22. Aiden Moffat, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +2.437s
23. Will Powell, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +5.226s
24. Dan Cammish, NAPA Racing UK No Time
25. Nic Hamilton, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown No Time
26. Nick Halstead, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 No Time
27. Jade Edwards, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD DSQ