Josh Cook and Ashley Sutton claimed victory at Thruxton this past weekend (May 8/9) as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship lifted the curtain on its 2021 season in blockbuster fashion.
In what proved to be a pulsating day of action around the high-speed Hampshire venue, Britain’s premier Motorsport series took centre stage with a trio of action-packed encounters that undoubtedly had fans on the edge of their seats watching at home.
BTC Racing’s Cook powered his Honda Civic Type R to a brace of race wins before reigning champion Sutton came to the fore in race three, winning an exciting wet-dry-wet contest. However, three podiums from three races means that Jake Hill left the 2.36-mile circuit at the summit of the championship standings.
Coming off the back of a exciting wet-dry qualifying on Saturday which saw Laser Tools Racing’s Sutton power to pole position in the final moments, drama ensued immediately as the lights went out on the new campaign on Sunday with a number of lead contenders in strife.
After launching off the line and into the lead, Sutton was tipped into a spin by the BMW of Colin Turkington at the Complex and dropped to the rear of the field. Further back, Gordon Shedden and Chris Smiley had come together around one of the fastest parts of the circuit and hit the barriers, whilst there was also to be a spin for Tom Oliphant on the run up Woodham Hill.
When the dust had settled, Cook found himself in the pound seat and after soaking up early pressure from Tom Ingram, he managed to pull clear to claim victory. Hill withstood race-long pressure from Turkington to round out the podium, whilst Sutton managed to recover to ninth having been as low as 27th at one stage.
Race two saw would see Cook double his tally for the day as he led a BTC Racing 1-2 with Dan Cammish following in second and the ever-impressive MB Motorsport Ford Focus of Hill completing the rostrum once again.
The start of the race saw a scary accident which involved Andy Neate, Glynn Geddie and Jade Edwards as the field streamed through Allard. All three cars made heavy contact with the Team HARD. Cupra of Geddie being sent into a roll. Thankfully all drivers walked away unharmed however a red flag halted proceedings.
At the restart, Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Rory Butcher lost control of his Corolla and hit the tyre stack at Noble bringing out the safety car. When the race finally settled down it was Cook that controlled proceedings as he hustled his ballast ladened Civic Type R to a second win of the day.
Race three finally saw Sutton taste victory after completing two comeback drives earlier in the day. In what was a frenetic wet-dry-wet bout, the double champion made the most of the challenging conditions to claim a deserved win.
Hill was arguably one of the stars of the show as he scored his third podium of the day whilst scrambling on slick tyres. It would have been second had it not been for Jason Plato pipping him on the run to the flag.
Leaving Thruxton, Hill holds a slender one point advantage over Cook in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship. Motorbase Performance/Ford head the way in the BTCC Manufacturer/Constructors Champiionship whilst BTC Racing and Cook lead the way in the Teams’ and Independent Drivers’ categories.
Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing control the Independent Teams’ standings, with Sam Osborne the early pace-setter in the Jack Sears Trophy.
To view the full classification of results from this past weekend’s BTCC opener, CLICK HERE.