Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram will head into the final three races of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in contention to be crowned champion next month following an action-packed weekend (September 23/24) at Silverstone.
Brands Hatch’s world-famous Grand Prix circuit will once again provide the setting for this year’s closer in less than two weeks’ time with three-time title winner Sutton heading there with a commanding 45-point lead at the top of the standings.
With 67 points set to be on offer at the famous Kent venue, reigning champion Ingram now remains the only driver in mathematical contention to capture the biggest prize in the UK motorsport.
The penultimate event of the season at the Home of British Motor Racing saw its fair share of thrills and spills as Sutton, Jake Hill and Colin Turkington shared the spoils on what proved to be a spectacular race day in Northamptonshire.
Running under the ‘Top Ten Showdown’ format for the final time this season, qualifying on Saturday proved to be ultra-competitive with less than a tenth of second blanketing the top five.
Following a frenetic opening segment it was anybody’s guess as to who would grab pole position but CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Mikey Doble duly stepped up the mantel to blast his Vauxhall Astra to the top of the timesheets.
Team BMW’s Turkington came to within 0.012 seconds of Doble’s pole time but the rear-wheel-drive ace had to settle for runners-up laurels whilst championship protagonists Ingram, Hill and Sutton completed the top five.
Doble’s delight sadly turned into despair in race one as a miscommunication by the team led to him completing an additional green flag lap, which relegated him to the rear of the field.
With drizzly conditions throwing a spanner in the works, tyre strategy proved crucial and it was Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Hill that rolled the dice correctly to leave his rivals in his wake as he claimed a commanding victory.
Blasting into the lead off the line, Hill was in a league of his own out front whilst Dan Rowbottom and Andrew Watson diced for second and third all the way to the chequered flag.
Further down the order, both Sutton and Ingram found themselves in the thick of the action as they tumbled backwards before pitting for wet tyres. The pair would ultimately go on to finish the race in 22nd and 23rd.
That result set up two of the finest performances that the BTCC has seen in recent years as Sutton and Ingram carved their way through the order in race two, with NAPA Racing UK’s Sutton clinching a famous tenth win of the season.
As soon as the lights went out the champion duo were on the move and whilst they progressed forward, Hill looked to be cruising to victory out front. That was until a safety car neutralised proceedings.
On the restart, a mechanical issue appeared to hamper Hill’s pace and he soon began to drop places, which promoted Aron Taylor-Smith into the lead. Holding firm out front for a number of laps, the Vauxhall driver soon had Sutton bearing down on him and the inevitable happened.
Sutton’s move for the lead came on the penultimate lap as he bravely dived down the inside of the Irishman at Woodcote and once clear, he cruised home to notch yet another win whilst Taylor-Smith and Ingram completed the podium.
Four-time champion Turkington then brought the curtain down on the weekend in style as he scored BMW’s 150th victory in the BTCC.
Starting fifth, the rear-wheel-drive ace wasted no time in making progress and he soon hauled himself into a lead that he was ultimately never challenged for. Behind, Ingram and Sutton had everyone on the edge of theirs seats again as they clawed their way onto the rostrum.
Turkington’s win ensured that BMW remain on course to secure the Manufacturer-Constructors for an eighth consecutive season whilst NAPA Racing UK are holding firm at the top of the Teams’ Championship.
Josh Cook has provisionally wrapped up the Independent Drivers’ Championship for the second year in succession whilst his One Motorsport with Starline Racing squad have edged closer to retaining their Independent Teams’ crown.
In the Jack Sears Trophy, Watson now sits on the cusp of clinching the title after enjoying a stellar weekend which saw him extend his lead over the chasing pack.
To view the full classification of results from all BTCC sessions at Silverstone, CLICK HERE.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will bring the curtain down on its 2023 season at Brands Hatch on October 7/8.