The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship continued its breathtaking start to the 2023 season at Brands Hatch this past weekend (May 6/7) as Ashley Sutton and Colin Turkington claimed victory in front of a capacity crowd.
Hot on the heels of a spectacular Donington Park curtain-raiser just a fortnight ago, the UK’s premier motorsport series took centre stage at the world-famous Kent venue for what turned out to be three blockbuster races on the challenging Indy circuit.
Wet weather battered the track throughout Saturday, leading to the second qualifying session of the campaign proving to be a truncated and frenetic affair – with no fewer than three red flag interruptions.
NAPA Racing UK’s Dan Cammish ultimately emerged as the driver to beat as he produced one of the best laps of his career to snatch pole position in the final seconds of the Top Ten Showdown; narrowly pipping the trio of Turkington, Jake Hill and Sutton.
Drier conditions greeted the drivers on Sunday and it was Team BMW’s Turkington that struck first as he moved up to second on the all-time BTCC winners list by claiming a near lights-to-flag victory following an early restart.
Just as the leaders were completing their first lap there was drama behind – involving Stephen Jelley, Adam Morgan, Andrew Watson and Dan Rowbottom – which brought about a lengthy red flag stoppage.
On the restart, four-time champion Turkington wasted no time in getting the jump from the outside of the front row and from there he cantered to a 64th career win ahead of three-time title winner Sutton and pole sitter Cammish.
Race two then saw Sutton open his account for the season with a measured drive after keeping reigning champion Tom Ingram at bay for a majority of the contest.
Wasting no time in snatching the lead from Turkington on the opening tour, the Ford Focus driver controlled proceedings out front in the early going whilst Ingram muscled his way up into second from fifth.
Despite closing the gap on a number of occasions, the Hyundai driver would ultimately never get close enough to mount a real challenge on Sutton, leaving him to shadow the NAPA racer across the line whilst Turkington completed the podium in third.
Sutton then rounded out what was his best-ever weekend in the BTCC with a second win as he inherited victory after carving his way up the order from 11th on the grid.
Starting on the sixth row virtue of the reverse grid draw, Sutton made pass after pass in the early going before then latching onto the back of race leader Ricky Collard, who was holding firm in his Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Corolla.
Producing a spirited defence, Collard would unfortunately be hit with a ten-second time penalty for multiple track limit infringements with the end in sight; giving Sutton the win while Bobby Thompson and Ingram filled the remaining spots on the podium.
Leaving Brands Hatch, Cammish holds a five-point lead over Ingram at the summit of the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst Motorbase Performance/Ford top the Manufacturers-Constructors Championship.
In the Teams’ Championship, NAPA Racing UK head the standings after two events whilst Bobby Thompson and Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils have established themselves as the early front runners in the Independent Drivers’ and Independent Teams’ Championship’s respectively.
The Jack Sears Trophy – which is open to drivers who hadn’t scored an outright podium in the series prior to the start of the season – is now led by NAPA Racing UK’s Sam Osborne.
To view the full classification of results from all BTCC sessions at Brands Hatch, CLICK HERE.
Snetterton’s 300 circuit provides the next stop on the calendar for the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship; with Rounds 7, 8 & 9 taking place on May 20/21.