SUTTON STRIKES BACK FOR RACE ONE WIN
Championship leader Ash Sutton had to fight back from third after slipping back off the line in the opening BTCC race at Donington Park, but the NAPA Racing UK driver soon stormed by his rivals for a comfortable victory.
Tom 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 with the rain falling at the famous venue.
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.
Jake 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 the final podium place away from the courageous Collard.
Second seemed an impossible task, but Hill gradually 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, but Ingram held on by just 0.049s.
These positions were reversed post-race, however, after Ingram was adjudged to have been too aggressive in his defence.
Collard and Turkington took fourth and fifth respectively, whilst CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Aron Taylor-Smith completed the top six.
Josh Cook (One Motorsport with Starline Racing), Dan Rowbottom (NAPA Racing UK), Andrew Watson (CarStore Power Maxed Racing) and Tom Chilton (BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8) rounded out the top ten positions.
Rounds 23 and 24 of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship take place later today with the action already live on ITV4 and ITVX.
Ash Sutton said: “I got a bit greedy on the clutch and instantly got some wheel spin, and threw it away completely.
“It’s a shame, because I would have liked to get my head down, but thankfully we had the pace in the car, it was just about biding out time.
“Getting past Tom [Ingram], 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.”
Tom Ingram said: “It’s a good result. Can’t help but be disappointed with it of course, but second is alright.
“Ash [Sutton] was in a different class in the race today. He seemed to be able to find grip that I didn’t have and couldn’t find, but full credit to that team, they’ve done a phenomenal job as they do every weekend. We’re playing catch up.
“It was close between Jake [Hill] and I at the end. I’d lost fronts, lost brakes, so I was a sitting target, so I had to work hard to manage it. It was starting to dry out, we were getting towards that horrible slimy greasy stage where there was generally no grip around.”
Jake Hill said: “In my eyes I got it done but somebody didn’t want me to stay on the road anymore.
“Focussing on the positives though it was mega. [Dan] Rowbottom tried his best to force me off the road, and did so a couple of times, but the rest of it was a great drive. Hats off to Árón [Taylor-Smith] and to Josh [Cook], they were dead clean with me, and my team-mate Colin [Turkington] as well.
“It was a really nice fight through, we were hooked up and it felt really good. After lap three it just came alive and stayed with me to the end, whereas I think everyone else was a lot quicker at the beginning but fell away at the end.”
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Round 22 – 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
11. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +23.698s
12. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +25.616s
13. George Gamble, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +26.082s
14. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +27.120s
15. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +28.058s
16. Mikey Doble, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +34.692s
17. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +35.120s
18. Aiden Moffat, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +37.900s
19. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +38.057s
20. Michael Crees, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +39.120s
21. Dexter Patterson, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +39.698s
22. Daryl DeLeon, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +40.164s
23. Jack Butel, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +46.346s
24. Nick Halstead, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +47.346s
25. Jade Edwards, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +1 lap