SUTTON SWEEPS TO THIRD SUCCESSIVE POLE POSITION
BTCC qualifying takes place at picturesque Oulton park
NAPA Racing UK’s Ash Sutton continued his sensational form as the three-time champion claimed his third successive BTCC pole position at Oulton Park earlier today (17 June).
Sutton leads the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship Drivers’ Standings by 14 points, having taken six victories from the 12 races so far this season, and the Ford Focus driver is showing no signs of letting up as the campaign heads towards its midway point.
Adam Morgan (Team BMW) and Dan Rowbottom (NAPA Racing UK) – fresh from their podium exploits last time out at Thruxton – were the notable absentees from the ‘Top Ten Showdown’ as the duo missed out during the first segment of qualifying.
That particular 30-minute run also belonged to Sutton, who was more than three tenths of a second clear of Tom Ingram (BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8), Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) and the rest of the chasing pack.
The ominous signs continued in the ten-minute showdown as Sutton set an early benchmark that wouldn’t be matched, although Hill also produced his own fantastic effort to be just over two tenths of a second behind.
Ricky Collard was delighted with third place on the grid for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, as was Bobby Thompson in fourth who concluded a fantastic day in his Team HARD-run Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils Cupra.
NAPA Racing UK’s Dan Cammish had to settle for fifth, whilst Ingram was a frustrated sixth. Reigning champion Ingram had set the pace in the morning practice session and was a front-runner again in FP2, but the Hyundai driver struggled for balance in the ‘Top Ten Showdown’.
Team BMW’s Colin Turkington was initially seventh, ahead of One Motorsport with Starline Racing’s Josh Cook, but there was disappointment for the former when he was disqualified from Qualifying after his #4 BMW 330e M Sport failed post-session scrutineering checks.
Árón Taylor-Smith (CarStore Power Maxed Racing) and Rory Butcher (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK) ended up eighth and ninth, whilst Morgan was subsequently promoted to tenth following Turkington’s penalty.
Rounds 13, 14 and 15 of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will take place at Oulton Park tomorrow with the action commencing LIVE on ITV1 from 1200.
The broadcast switches to ITV4 at 1400 with more than six hours of LIVE coverage being shown throughout the day.
Ash Sutton said: “It’s mega. We are in such a good rhythm with the car – we’ve only made a couple of changes since we rolled it out for the first time this weekend. The car comes alive on the soft tyre and it is a joy to drive. To qualify on it is something else and I just can’t thank NAPA Racing UK enough. We’ve put in so much hard work – it’s our third pole position on the bounce and a good way to end the Saturday.
“If the rear-wheel drive cars get a good jump off the line tomorrow it could be a different story, but I’ll try and get my head down and get away off the line in front.
“I spent a lot of my winter preparations honing my skills, focusing on my techniques as last year Tom [Ingram] was the guy to beat. I feel I can really dial myself in now and it shows that all of the work put in over the winter is really paying off.”
Jake Hill said: “I am pleased with that session and I am really happy to be up on the front row. We have been up there in the last few qualifying sessions, it certainly hasn’t been terrible, but it is nice to have found that little bit of performance that we were missing to get onto the front row. It is a great place to be starting.
“We’ve found just an extra bit of overall grip. It has felt a bit numb so far this year and not known where it is entirely, but we tried something radical for this weekend and went for it. So far, so good!
“We are quick in the wet so that might come into play tomorrow – but our aim is to get off the line and get ahead.”
Ricky Collard said: “That was a lap! It is really important for us as a team – and a nice little gift for my Dad ahead of Father’s Day tomorrow, too.
“I want to give the team and the fans that elusive podium and race win that we have all been chasing. This P3 in qualifying puts us in a really good position. I wish everyone could see the onboards as it is an incredible circuit – the car is sideways a lot, it is undulating and such fun to drive.
“NAPA Racing UK have done a superb job as always, and it is great to see Jake [Hill] up there, too, for BMW, so I am elated to be up there with them and looking forward to getting stuck in tomorrow.
“We have to make a good ‘Collard’ start tomorrow and we want to take the fight to those ahead. I want to put a show on and hope to secure that podium!”
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Oulton Park
1. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK 1:24.832s
2. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +0.225s
3. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.468s
4. Bobby Thompson, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +0.534s
5. Dan Cammish, NAPA Racing UK +0.611s
6. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.633s
7. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +0.655s
8. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.781s
9. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +1.032s
10. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +0.675s
11. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +0.680s
12. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +0.737s
13. Aiden Moffat, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +0.745s
14. George Gamble, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.753s
15. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +0.830s
16. Mikey Doble, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.912s
17. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.943s
18. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +0.949s
19. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.985s
20. Dexter Patterson, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +1.006s
21. Tom Chilton, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +1.155s
22. Jade Edwards, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +1.483s
23. Jack Butel, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +1.631s
24. Nic Hamilton, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +1.972s
25. Nick Halstead, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +2.331s
26. Will Powell, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +6.639s
DSQ. Colin Turkington, Team BMW
Colin Turkington was disqualified from the results of Qualifying for Round 13 of the Championship, after his car failed to comply with the post-session scrutineering checks regarding fuel.
Bobby Thompson has had 10 (ten) points deducted from the Drivers’ Championship for having changed a further engine above the number permitted.
10 (ten) points will also be deducted from Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils in the Team’s and Independent Team’s Championship scores having changed an engine above the number permitted.
Nick Halstead received a £500 fine for exceeding the pit lane speed limit.