The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship roared back into life after its annual six-week summer break in sensational style this past weekend (August 3/4) at Snetterton with Tom Ingram, Colin Turkington and Rory Butcher sharing the spoils.
Kicking off the second half of the 2019 campaign at the Norfolk venue, Britain’s premier race series served up an action-packed two days of track action which culminated in a edge of the seat third encounter.
For the first time in BTCC history, all three tyre compounds (soft, medium and hard) were available to be used by teams and drivers on race day. Nominations were made just before the pit lane opened prior to each race, adding further intrigue and strategy to the spectacle.
Qualifying on Saturday proved to be a record-breaking affair as Ingram claimed the first pole position for Speedworks Motorsport’s new Toyota Corolla. Storming to the top of the times with a 1:54.737, last years runner-up edged out Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Dan Cammish by a slender 0.002.
Starting on the front row of the grid, Ingram converted his pole position into a commanding lights-to-flag victory on the soft tyre. Withstanding an early challenge from Cammish, Ingram soon began to stretch his legs out front an cantered to his second win of the season.
Cammish continued his rich vein of form with yet another podium whilst Sam Tordoff rounded out the rostrum in third.
Race two would see championship leader Turkington come to the fore as he powered to a fifth victory of the season ahead of Cammish and team-mate Andrew Jordan.
Launching into second place on the opening lap, the three-time champion took the lead away from Ingram at the halfway marker – with the Toyota driver suffering an engine issue. Once out front, the BMW 330i M Sport racer clinched a comfortable victory, a record tenth in a single season for West Surrey Racing.
The third and final race of the weekend from the Norfolk venue will likely go down as being one of the races of the season as Cobra Sport AmD AutoAid/RCIB Insurance’s Butcher scored his second win of the season – albeit his first on the road.
BTC Racing’s Chris Smiley started on pole position virtue of the reverse grid draw but his lead was short-lived as Jason Plato and Ashley Sutton got the better of him on the opening tour.
From there, a back-and-forth battle between the former team-mates ensued as they diced for the lead, leaving those in attendance on the edge of their seats. Going side-by-side on lap five, Sutton was unable to find a way past the Vauxhall driver but continued to press.
Two laps later, a daring move around the outside of turns one and two allowed Sutton to complete the move and take the lead at turn three. However, contact from Plato into the rear of the Subaru driver at Agostini forced him wide and back down to second.
By this stage a whole host of drivers had joined the fray for victory, many of them charging through the pack on soft tyres. The exciting climax to the battle came on lap eight as Plato, Sutton and Butcher ran three-abreast down the back straight and into Brundle.
Scything his way down the inside, Butcher took both Plato and Sutton and powered into the lead as they both made contact once more; this time leaving Sutton spinning onto the grass and dropping to 20th.
Once the melee had finished, it was Butcher that stormed to victory whilst the BTC Racing pairing of Josh Cook and Smiley were second and third respectively.
Come the end of the weekend, Turkington had extended his advantage at the summit of the BTCC Drivers’ Championship to 36 points, with Jordan in second and Butcher jumping back up into third place.
For the full classification of results from all sessions, click here.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is back in action in under two weeks’ time on August 17/18 when it makes it second visit of the year to the fastest circuit in the UK and the home of the British Automobile Racing Club, Thruxton Circuit.
Advance tickets to the seventh event of the season are available to purchase by heading to https://thruxtonracing.co.uk/racing/btcc-aug or by calling 01264 882200 (Option 1).