Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship team Motorbase Performance concluded the first half of the 2022 season with a character-building event at Croft Circuit over the weekend, 25th/26th June, as three largely processional races – and some incident – limited any challenges for silverware.
Ash Sutton qualified his NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST seventh for race one, having only been able to deliver one flying lap in Saturday afternoon’s session due to three red flag stoppages. Launching brilliantly at the start of round 13 on Sunday, he moved into sixth but overtaking thereafter proved to be at a premium and he stayed sixth to the chequered flag.
Round 14 wasn’t dissimilar in terms of the unusually staid nature of the action at the front, Sutton started in sixth and ended the uneventful encounter sixth again. Lining-up seventh for round 15 on the partially reversed grid, he aimed to secure more vital championship points.
Launching well, he challenged for sixth at the end of lap one around the outside of the hairpin and was ahead over the start/finish line into lap two but contact to the rear of the No.1 Focus into turn one, Clervaux, led to damage and a limp back to the pits. Great work by the team got him back out, some four laps down, and he finished 26th – at least able to gather important data.
Dan Cammish, in action at Croft after two days representing NAPA Racing UK and the BTCC at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, saw no reversal in his luck on Saturday. First, an unfortunate issue with his car led to a trip into the gravel at Clervaux in second practice and his quickest lap in his immaculately repaired Ford Focus ST in qualifying was baulked – costing him half a dozen places.
Starting round 13 on Sunday from a frustrating 14th on the grid, without taking major risks any passing opportunities were nigh-on impossible. Gaining one position late on, Cammish ended the race – which featured two Safety Car periods – in 13th place. In round 14 he moved up one spot into the top 12 on a strong first lap and after losing and regaining 12th, he eventually finished 13th.
Round 15 was the weekend highlight, Cammish delivering an excellent drive from 13th on the grid to finish in eighth position. Gaining a place on lap one, by the fourth tour he was into the top 10 and took ninth on lap six. Then, with two laps to go, he grabbed eighth at Sunny In with a good pass.
There was nothing to separate Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan’s Jackson and Osborne in qualifying, just 0.058 seconds splitting them, but the miniscule gap still meant a difference of three grid slots with Jackson beginning round 13 from 19th and Osborne from 22nd – only 0.8 seconds shy of pole.
Once again misfortune befell Jackson on only the second lap of race one when, while running strongly in the pack, contact put him off the track heavily into the barriers at Sunny Out. Osborne, meanwhile, wasn’t able to make the progress he’d hoped for and finished the 18 lap contest 21st.
With a lot to do from 27th on the grid in race two in his gleaming repaired Ford Focus ST, Jackson produced a sensational start and opening lap to gain no fewer than six places. Racing hard throughout, dicing with team-mate Osborne in a tightly packed group, both took turns ahead of the other with Osborne eventually finishing in 19th spot just ahead of Jackson.
In round 15, Jackson put together another great first lap to climb into 17th spot from 20th and after Sutton’s incident he gained another place. Although edged back soon after, he regained 16th and took 15th on the last lap and the final point. Osborne slipped outside the top 20 on lap one, but hit back to move back into 19th after a few laps. In the end, he had to settle for 20th position.
Motorbase/Ford go into the five week summer break third in the Manufacturer/Constructor standings, while NAPA Racing UK remains second in the Teams Championship and Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan holds 13th place.
Oly Collins – Motorbase Performance Team Manager:
“All in all, a frustrating raceday at Croft. Ash was on for a solid weekend of three top six results until being hit in race three, so that didn’t help, but we were generally a little off the pace of the Hyundai cars in particular and we need to work on that. Clearly, overtaking in the BTCC has become a lot more difficult this season so we need to do some work. We now head in to the half term ‘break’ with a little bit of time, we have a two-day test coming up which we have some good things on the agenda to try and Knockhill will be back upon us in no time.”
Ash Sutton – NAPA Racing UK, No.1:
“It’s been a similar weekend to Oulton Park where we’ve had two solid points finishes and then seen that hard work become undone in race three. We only had one lap in qualifying so I was happy to start off seventh and then in races one and two we just kept out of trouble to pick up solid points. To come away with nothing in race three is frustrating but we’ve just got to dust ourselves down and go again.”
Dan Cammish – NAPA Racing UK, No.9:
“I’m glad we could end the weekend with a decent finish in race three, it felt good to make some solid progress and especially after how the weekend started with the issue in FP2 and then losing out in qualifying. Overtaking was almost impossible in the first two races, we just couldn’t get on terms as we needed to, but everyone at Motorbase and NAPA Racing UK kept pushing to try and improve things. There’s more work to do before Knockhill, but I know we’ll get there.”
Ollie Jackson – Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan, No.48:
“Race three was a good way to finish what was, again, another mixed weekend for us. It’s good to have been able to gain a few places and finish in the points, but it was tough as overtaking was pretty difficult. Our day started off badly in the barriers after contact in race one, but the guys in the team worked as hard as ever and did a great job to get the car repaired for race two. Hopefully we can make some progress during the summer break and come back stronger at Knockhill.”
Sam Osborne – Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan, No.77:
“It’s been a tough weekend, we’ve been suffering with the front end so it’s been hard work just to keep up. We keep trying different things with the set-up but we’re not quite there, so the five week break before Knockhill is well needed so we can scratch our heads and see if we can come up with a solution. The races were relatively clean for us this weekend, but just not the results we wanted.”
Knockhill Circuit in Fife, Scotland, will host the resumption of the BTCC season five weeks from now, over the weekend 30th/31st July.
2022 BTCC Drivers Championship
4th Ash Sutton, 171pts; 11th Dan Cammish, 86pts; 22nd Ollie Jackson, 9pts; 25th Sam Osborne, 1pt
2022 BTCC Manufacturers/Constructors Championship
3rd Motorbase Performance/Ford, 346pts
2022 BTCC Teams Championship
2nd NAPA Racing UK, 259pts; 13th Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan, 14pts
2022 Jack Sears Trophy
4th Sam Osborne, 164pts