Three-time champion Ash Sutton produced one of the finest performances of his illustrious BTCC career so far and heads into the final three races of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with a commanding 45-point lead over Tom Ingram after a legendary drive in Race Two.
NAPA Racing UK, together with Technical Partner Valvoline, unveiled a truly special one-off livery on Sam Osborne’s Ford Focus for one weekend only. This exclusive design paid homage to the Ford Mondeo driven by Paul Radisich in the 1990s.
It was the return and final 2023 ‘Top Ten Showdown’ format, with Sutton heading into qualifying with only 1 second worth of hybrid around the challenging circuit and a combination of high-speed corners and straights.
It would be the Valvoline Ford of Osborne who was the fastest of the four-car fleet as he delivered the lap of his life, storming to an incredible third spot in the first round of qualifying. Championship leader Sutton was on the clasp of the cut off zone but managed to hold on while teammate Dan Cammish took sixth and Dan Rowbottom in 13th. The top ten were separated by an incredible 0.109s.
By the end of qualifying, Sutton qualified in fifth, Cammish in seventh and Osborne completed his best qualifying result of the season in tenth. This was a first non-NAPA pole of the 2023 BTCC season after Mikey Doble became the first driver outside the NAPA Racing UK line-up to secure pole position in qualifying.
Drizzly conditions led to a chaotic pre-grid as teams and drivers had a critical call to make, with Sutton and Cammish choosing the slick tyres, while Osborne and Rowbottom fitted the wets. With the rain getting heavier, #116 and #27 came in to change tyres, dropping them down the order. With the correct rubber on, it was a great result for Rowbottom as he charged through the field from P13 to take second position with Osborne finishing in eighth.
Sutton produced one of the finest performances of his BTCC career so far, as the three-time champion fought from 23rd on the grid to secure an extraordinary first victory. The final move from the #116 machine came on the penultimate lap as he dived down the inside of leader Árón Taylor-Smith and into the lead through Woodcote and secured what was remarkably Sutton’s first Silverstone win of his BTCC career..
With a complete top twelve reverse grid for Race Three, Sutton started down in 12th place, with Rowbottom taking a second row start in P3. A great getaway from Rowbottom saw him battling for the lead heading into the first corner, eventually leading the pack just before the safety car was deployed. Sutton picked his way through the pack, making his way up to third, with Rowbottom eventually finishing in fourth.
Sutton will now head to the final races of the season at Brands Hatch on the 7/8 October 45 points clear of Ingram, while NAPA Racing UK heading with a dominant 119 points lead in the Teams Championship.
PORSCHE CARRERA CUP
Silverstone marked the return of Gus Burton as he qualified in third place, in tricky damp conditions, along with the top two he started on slick tyres. With Burton losing P3 at the start, when he suffered wheelspin off the line, he slipped down the grid to P9. By lap 5, the slicks were the quicker compound, with Burton picking his way through the field. With only a handful of laps left, it turned into a three-way fight with Burton placing his car perfectly, holding off tremendous pressure from championship leader Adam Smalley to take the win.
MINI CHALLENGE JCW
The Silverstone weekend marked the penultimate round of the MINI CHALLENGE JCW for NAPA Racing UK’s two drivers, Jamie Osborne and Lewis Selby. Osborne lined-up in P12, while Selby took to the grid in P15. Both drivers got off the line, but it was Osborne that would be the quickest of the pair as he stormed up the grid, to finish in 5th place and taking the win in the Graduates Cup.
Jamie now leads the Graduates Cup with 14 points going into the final rounds at Brands Hatch on the 7/8 October.
ASH SUTTON – NAPA RACING UK, NO.116:
“I’m speechless if I’m honest. I knew it was going to be tough and it fell in our favour with Jake [Hill] having that engine trouble by the looks of it. I’ve missed hybrid, it hurt here in qualifying but to get the full allocation – we haven’t had that since Round One so we made the most of it.
“Our plan was to utilise it for passing cars that we thought might be harder to overtake. I’m over the moon, we maximised everything, the car, the changes we made overnight were mega, so I can’t thank NAPA Racing UK enough for their effort.”
OLY COLLINS – TEAM MANAGER
“The BTCC always offers excitement, but Sunday was next level! With full concentration on the Championship for Ash, Race 1 was a bit of a dent, but what followed showed the best you can see of Ash Sutton! We approached Race 2 with an eye on the reverse grid for a potentially strong Race 3, but Ash displayed a masterclass of pace & race craft, leaving us all stunned.
This weekend showed the strength of this team throughout. To have all four drivers up there in qualifying shared moments throughout the day between all of them, and a brace of silverware to come home with. We now head to the finale in a positive mood, knowing there is a complete team here all working for the same goal”.
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