Honours shared on BTCC’s Donington Park GP return
Win apiece for Ash Sutton, Tom Ingram and Rory Butcher
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship made its return to the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit for the first time in 21 years and produced a feast of bumper-to-bumper action throughout the weekend (26/27 August).
Ash Sutton narrowly extended his advantage at the top of the Drivers’ standings after both he and title rival Tom Ingram took a win apiece, whilst Jake Hill remains in contention thanks to a double podium around the 2.49-mile layout.
The final reverse grid race was won by Rory Butcher, providing a much-needed boost for the Scotsman and the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK outfit.
Sutton strikes back for race one win
Championship leader Sutton had to fight back from third after slipping back off the line in the opener, but the NAPA Racing UK driver soon stormed by his rivals for a comfortable victory.
Ingram (BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8) flew past Sutton as the lights went out and he was immediately followed through by Ricky Collard (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK), as the title race looked to be taking a turn under heavy rain clouds.
Sutton cruised by Collard before the end of the first tour, however, and then he squeezed by Ingram’s #1 Hyundai just a lap later as the pair ran towards the Melbourne Hairpin.
The #116 Ford Focus gradually pulled clear while Ingram would eventually be embroiled in a titanic tussle in the wet for second.
Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) was the star of the show as he gradually made his way up to fifth, before the #24 BMW 330e M Sport really came alive in the second half of the contest.
Hill sliced by Team BMW stablemate Colin Turkington for fourth and then took the final podium place away from the courageous Collard.
Second seemed an impossible task, but Hill reeled in Ingram and a monumental battle took place on the final corner. The pair touched and ran side-by-side to the chequered flag, with Hill taking the place following a post-race penalty for Ingram, after he was adjudged to have gained a position by not leaving a car’s width to the edge of the circuit.
Ingram edges out title rivals to triumph
Reigning champion Ingram refuses to give up his title without a fight as the BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 man wrestled victory away from title rival Sutton in the second BTCC bout.
NAPA Racing UK’s Sutton maintained his lead from pole position while Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Hill initially held off Ingram as the pair ran down the Craner Curves for the first time.
Ingram made his way by Hill shortly after, before making a brilliant move past Sutton on the run down to the Old Hairpin.
Sutton immediately had to think about defending second place from Hill and stablemate Colin Turkington as the BMW 330e M Sports closed in.
Hill showed his nose on a number of occasions and the pair even swapped paint on the final lap, but Sutton claimed second ahead of Hill and Team BMW’s Turkington.
Butcher brings it home after late Lloyd heartbreak
Scotsman Butcher claimed his first win of the season after long-time race leader Dan Lloyd spun out on the final lap when a driveshaft broke on his Team HARD-run Cupra.
Pole-sitter Lloyd had dealt with every challenge that the reversed-grid had thrown at him – including a safety car period and late surge from Butcher – but incredibly with just half a lap to go his Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils car spun wildly into the gravel on the run out of McLean’s.
It was heartbreak for Lloyd, but a huge win for Butcher, as both drivers demonstrated the emotional highs and lows of the BTCC. It was also a much-needed victory for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK after a frustrating season at times, but the Speedworks Motorsport run squad showed solid pace for much of the weekend.
There were more celebrations on the podium as CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Aron Taylor-Smith returned to the rostrum for the first time in seven years, whilst Team BMW’s Adam Morgan bounced back from a difficult mid-season to grab his own piece of silverware.
Sutton now leads Ingram by 42 points in the Drivers’ standings, whilst Hill and Turkington still remain in contention to win the most coveted prize in British motorsport.
BMW top the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ championship, whilst NAPA Racing UK leads the Teams’ table.
Josh Cook and One Motorsport with Starline Racing hold sway for both Independents’ honours, whilst CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Andrew Watson is the Jack Sears Trophy leader.
Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will take place at Silverstone on 23/24 September.
Ash Sutton said: “Getting past Tom [Ingram] in race one, I just wanted to make sure it was one hundred percent right before making the move. We saw what we were missing last year, and we have really chased things like traction and looking after the tyres.
We still had some performance in the car until the very end and that just proved that the guys and girls at NAPA Racing have done an incredible job. The championship is on our mind now, so we’ll keep pushing, but we were also careful in those final two races to bring home some solid points.”
Tom Ingram said: “I think we should have been on pole yesterday. Arguably we had the pace, but I messed up in qualifying. Once we bolted the slicks on, I thought ‘right it’s on, we’re having this’. The car came alive.
“We’ve been working through some issues this year just to understand what and where and how. We’ve come up with a fix, and Spencer [engineer] has given me one hell of a car to go back at them with. It might be too late, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Rory Butcher said: “We joked about it – ‘you’ve done this before. You can do it again. We’re not leaving Donington without silverware.’
“That’s the teamwork we’ve got back at base. So happy to see Ricky [Collard], the way he is driving at the moment, and George [Gamble] is on the cusp there of making a breakthrough as well. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. We share data, we’re really open, we champion each other. It’s great.”
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 1 – Donington Park GP
1. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK 14 laps
2. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +7.227s
3. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +7.678s
4. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +8.934s
5. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +9.636s
6. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +11.987s
7. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +12.662s
8. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +13.229s
9. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +14.010s
10. Tom Chilton, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +20.666s
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 2 – Donington Park GP
1. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 14 laps
2. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK +2.831s
3. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +3.045s
4. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +3.638s
5. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +8.016s
6. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +11.577s
7. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +12.157s
8. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +19.757s
9. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +20.487s
10. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +21.273s
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 3 – Donington Park GP
1. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK 15 laps
2. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.357s
3. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +0.637s
4. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +1.750s
5. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK +2.621s
6. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +3.338s
7. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +4.004s
8. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +6.236s
9. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +7.496s
10. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +7.801s
BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 had 20 points deducted from the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ and/or Teams’ and/or Independents Teams’ Championship for having changed an engine above the number permitted.
Tom Ingram was penalised by the addition of half a second to his race time for Round 22 of the Championship, for an incident involving Jake Hill.
Andrew Watson was penalised by means of a three-place grid penalty for Round 23 of the Championship, after an incident involving Ronan Pearson during Round 22.
Dexter Patterson was penalised by the addition of five seconds to his race time for Round 23 of the Championship, for an incident involving Mikey Doble.