The battle for supremacy in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship saw more twists and turns play out this past weekend (August 26/27) as Ash Sutton, Tom Ingram and Rory Butcher charged to victory at Donington Park.
Entering the business end of the 2023 season, the UK’s premier motorsport series took centre stage on the Leicestershire venue’s GP layout for the first time in more than two decades – and the frenetic tin top action that followed didn’t disappoint.
With every point proving to be crucial in deciding the destiny of this year’s title, qualifying on Saturday afternoon saw an almighty battle for pole position take place; with Sutton ultimately claiming bragging rights.
In what proved to be a ding-dong battle between the series’ leading title contenders, Sutton and Ingram spent a majority of the session trading fastest times before the NAPA Racing UK stamped his authority on proceedings to clinch his fifth pole of the year.
Had it not been for a slight lock-up on his final flying lap, Ingram could have clinched top spot however he settled for second ahead of Ricky Collard, Colin Turkington and Aron Taylor-Smith – who completed the top five.
Sutton made history in a wet opening encounter as he charged to an impressive ninth victory of the season, which in-turn saw him set a new record for the most wins in a single season in the current NGTC era.
Despite dropping to third on the opening lap, the Ford Focus driver took just two laps to power back into the lead and once out front, he paced the opposition to comfortably triumph ahead of a charging Jake Hill and Ingram.
Reigning champion Ingram showed that he won’t be giving up his title without a fight however as he produced a battling performance to score victory in race two.
Blasting away from third, the Hyundai driver wasted no time in muscling his way past Hill and then set off in pursuit of Sutton, making a brilliant pass on the run down to the Old Hairpin a few laps later.
Despite coming under pressure from Sutton in the subsequent laps, the 2022 champion got his head down and soon stretched his advantage to cruise to the top step of the podium. Behind, Sutton fended off the advances of Hill to clinch second.
Race three saw Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Butcher claim his first win of the season after long-time race leader Dan Lloyd endured heartbreak on the final lap, when a driveshaft snapped and sent him spinning out of contention.
Pole-sitter Lloyd had dealt with everything that was thrown at him in the reverse grid bout however with half a lap remaining, the Team HARD driver spun wildly into the gravel on the approach to McLean’s.
Lloyd’s despair was Butcher’s elation as he claimed a much-needed victory ahead of CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Taylor-Smith – who was back on the podium for the first time in seven years – and Team BMW’s Adam Morgan.
Heading into the penultimate event of the season at the end of September, Sutton holds a 42-point advantage at the top of the Drivers’ Championship ahead of Ingram, with Hill, Turkington and Dan Cammish round out the top five.
NAPA Racing UK continue their march at the summit of the Teams’ Championship, whilst BMW narrowly edge Ford in the battle for the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ title.
Josh Cook and One Motorsport with Starline Racing remain close to retaining their respective Independent Drivers’ and Independent Teams’ crowns, whilst Andrew Watson sets the pace in the ultra-competitive Jack Sears Trophy.
To view the full classification of results from all BTCC sessions at Donington Park, CLICK HERE.
The penultimate event of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will see Rounds 25, 26 & 27 play out around the Home of British Motor Racing, Silverstone, on September 23/24.