The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship kicked off its hybrid era in style at Donington Park this weekend (April 23/24) as Tom Ingram, Gordon Shedden and Jake Hill shared the spoils across three blockbuster races.
Lifting the curtain on the 2022 season under the flightpath of East Midlands airport, the sun beamed down on the UK’s premier motorsport series as it became the first major touring car series in the world to implement hybrid technology into all of its cars.
Drivers are in control of when to deploy the hybrid system via a button on the steering wheel, seeing them receive up to 15 seconds per lap of additional hybrid power – a benefit that can be used to either attack or defend during races.
History was first made on Saturday afternoon as ROKiT MB Motorsport’s Hill blitzed his way to a career-first pole position. In what proved to be an ultra-competitive qualifying session, the BMW driver set a best time of 1:08.418 to record a new lap record.
Staggeringly, just 0.063s covered the top four on the grid with Colin Turkington, reigning champion Ashley Sutton and Ingram all hot on the heels of Hill.
Race one saw Ingram write his name into the record books as he became the first winner of the hybrid era. The Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com hit the front early after getting the better of his BMW rivals in the opening exchanges and cantered to a 20th career victory.
After going wheel-to-wheel with Hill, Turkington managed to secure the second spot on the podium ahead of his WSR team-mate. However, Hill would be excluded from the result after failing the post-race ride height checks – promoting Shedden up to third.
Shedden then powered his Halfords Racing with Cataclean Honda Civic Type R to the top step of the podium in race two. Starting third, the three-time champion leapfrogged Turkington – who stalled on the grid – and set off in pursuit of race one victor Ingram.
Hounding the back of the Hyundai for a number of laps, the Scotsman made his move on lap nine and despite a late charge from Ingram, he managed to hold on to open his account for the season.
Behind, George Gamble’s enjoyed a dream debut in the series as he backed up his sixth place finish in race one with a brilliant podium drive in race two, piloting his Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport BMW to third.
The reverse grid draw saw number nine pulled and that placed Hill back onto pole position for the third and final race of the weekend.
In what was a redemption drive, the rear-wheel-drive ace didn’t put a wheel wrong as he converted his front row start into a commanding victory. Triple champion Sutton shadowed Hill in a comfortable second whilst Josh Cook completed the podium after a frenetic battle with Dan Lloyd.
Leaving Donington Park, Ingram holds a seven-point lead over Shedden in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship with Sutton a further four points in arrears.
Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com lead both the BTCC Manufacturer-Constructors Championship and the BTCC Teams’ Championship whilst Adam Morgan and Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport do the same in the Independent rankings.
In the Jack Sears Trophy, Bobby Thompson narrowly edged out Gamble to claim weekend honours.
To view the full classification of results from all sessions at Donington Park, CLICK HERE.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season reconvenes at Brands Hatch on May 14/15.