SUTTON KEEPS HILL AT BAY TO WIN SNETTERTON OPENER
NAPA Racing UK’s Ash Sutton took his 30th career BTCC victory in the opening contest at Snetterton, as the three-time champ held off a late charge from Jake Hill’s Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport BMW.
Sutton made a sensational start, immediately pulling away from the chasing pack, which included a sluggish getaway from Tom Ingram (BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8) from second on the grid.
WSR stablemates Colin Turkington and Jake Hill slipped into second and third respectively, whilst Ingram’s frustrating first lap went from bad to worse.
The reigning champ’s #1 machine was squeezed out wide at least twice on the opening tour and he eventually found himself towards the lower end of the top ten.
Sutton had pulled out a three second gap after just three laps with Ingram’s fightback providing the entertainment to the packed banks of fans.
The i30N was the quickest car on-track by mid-distance as Ingram set the fastest lap of the race, and he was soon back into fourth, with Ricky Collard (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK) also dropping out with a water pump problem.
Dan Cammish (NAPA Racing UK) – running the hard Goodyear compound – was busy making extraordinary progress from the back of the grid and he found himself in tenth late on.
Ingram and Cammish’s pace – for differing reasons – began to settle with the former unable to attack the BMWs ahead and the latter eventually losing a top ten spot to Aron Taylor-Smith, but both had made their mark on the contest.
A fight for the lead eventually materialised when Hill made an opportunistic move by Turkington for second, with the place being secured through the Bomb Hole.
Hill’s pace was blistering in the closing laps as he hauled in Sutton’s #116 Ford Focus at a rapid rate. Unfortunately for the Kent driver, he simply ran out of time with the pair separated by just 0.270s as the chequered flag waved.
Turkington claimed a podium ahead of Ingram and a lonely Team BMW duo of Adam Morgan and Stephen Jelley.
Dan Rowbottom (NAPA Racing UK) was the highest finisher on the harder rubber, ahead of Josh Cook (One Motorsport with Starline Racing), Rory Butcher (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK) and Taylor-Smith (CarStore Power Maxed Racing).
Ash Sutton said: “We had to pounce at the start, we know how long it takes for the rear-wheel drive cars to get the tyres up to temperature. Especially on the soft there, we had to be cautious. I just treated the first three laps like a qualifying session. That is where the gap came from and ultimately that gap won us the race.
“You saw the rate that these guys come at us. I think we had a bit of a helping hand when they were all squabbling as well. One more lap and it may of been a different story – old Jakey boy may have got me! We hung in there and that is the main thing. We’ve got the softs still to come, and we all have the hards to play. It’s going to be an interesting day.”
Jake Hill said: “You can’t think about what could have been and only on what there was – and what happened was a great ending! P2 and lots of points on the board again. Especially after my puncture during Race 3 at Brands Hatch, it’s nice to come to Snetterton and have a good start.
“When we were catching Colin [Turkington] we had a really good couple of sectors there onto the back straight, and used all the hybrid. Colin saw me late I think, and it put me on the grass which wasn’t ideal, but we hung on in there, got the move done and went after Ash [Sutton]. It was a nice chase at the end there, I’m hopeful it made good viewing for everyone!”
Colin Turkington said: “We had good pace early on. The first few laps my car was quite pointy, so that means that the front was really strong. Unfortunately that means the rears struggled to keep up a bit, so by midway through the race I was using the rear tyres pretty hard and dropping and dropping. That quite often happens on the softs.
“I could see Jake was quite quick in the middle part of the lap and obviously he got the tow and the hybrid to get up behind me, so I could see he had more pace and there was no point being too feisty. We both want to get home on the podium.
“It was a solid start to the day. We started P3 and finished P3. We’ll just try nudge the car in the right direction for the next.”
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 1 – Snetterton (300)
1. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK 12 Laps
2. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +0.270s
3. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +3.553s
4. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +4.541s
5. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +12.961s
6. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +13.177s
7. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +24.648s
8. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +29.285s
9. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +32.283s
10. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +32.562s
11. Dan Cammish, NAPA Racing UK +33.619s
12. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +34.895s
13. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +34.897s
14. George Gamble, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +40.414s
15. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +42.828s
16. Bobby Thompson, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +42.950s
17. Mikey Doble, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +43.591s
18. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +43.899s
19. Aiden Moffat, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +48.238s
20. Dexter Patterson, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +48.429s
21. Jack Butel, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +49.702s
22. Will Powell, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +57.327s
23. Nic Hamilton, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +57.986s
24. Tom Chilton, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +1:02.401s
25. Jade Edwards, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +1:03.750s
26. Nick Halstead, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +1:12.115s
27. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +8 Laps