NAPA Racing UK celebrated its maiden race victory in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill Circuit in Scotland on Sunday, 31st July, after a remarkable drive from Ash Sutton sealed a very popular win for the Motorbase Performance run entry in round 17 of the season.
After delivering his best qualifying performance of 2022 with the second fastest time in Saturday afternoon’s session, his Ford Focus ST the only front-wheel drive car in the top six, Sutton served up a monumental drive in round 16 on Sunday. Pressuring pole qualifier Jake Hill from the outset, into lap two Sutton braked impossibly late on the outside into Duffus Dip and superbly grabbed the lead.
Staying ahead of the BMW for the next five laps, Hill got back ahead into Duffus on lap eight but Sutton refused to cede and with immense commitment he moved back ahead into McIntyres. On lap 10, though, Hill had the run into the first turn and Sutton had to give way, eventually finishing second on lap 24 after soaking up immense pressure later on from Colin Turkington’s BMW.
Lining-up on the front row again for round 17, Sutton held second off the start and after an early Safety Car period his opportunity came on lap five when leader Hill ran wide at the chicane. Sutton sliced past and was never headed all the way to the flag on lap 26 despite huge pressure, although contact from Hill’s BMW on the run uphill to the finish line did result in a heart-in-mouth moment.
In round 18, Sutton capped off the weekend north of the border with a top five result and he was in the mix for the podium again during the closing stages. He ends the event third in the championship standings and just six points shy of the series lead.
Just three tenths of a second in qualifying meant the difference between a front-row start for race one and 10th on the grid for Dan Cammish, and the NAPA Racing UK driver produced two clean and solid drives in races one and two. Climbing into eighth early in round 16, he was edged back to ninth by the Honda of Gordon Shedden around mid-distance and stayed there to the chequered flag.
In round 17 Cammish again made early progress, climbing into eighth on the first lap, before the Safety Car was required. After the resumption on lap four he moved up into seventh and pressured Shedden lap after lap, but late on he was bundled back to ninth place.
Hopes of a hat-trick of solid finishes were dashed almost immediately in round 18 when he was wiped out of the race at the exit of McIntyres on the opening lap. Starting well from ninth, as Cammish headed into the second corner his car was hit by Shedden’s Honda after it had been in contact with Tom Ingram’s Hyundai. Retirement for Cammish, with broken suspension, was instant.
Sam Osborne was close to points results in the first two races, strong drives in each bringing him 17th place in both encounters. Starting round 16 from 23rd on the grid, the Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan driver made great progress during the first half of the race to move inside the top 20 and raced hard to take 17th position before the finish.
From the ninth row in round 17 Osborne broke into the top 15 on lap one before the Safety Car period, and although slipping back to 19th place a few laps after the re-start he fought back into 17th again before the flag on lap 26. Changes to his car’s set-up for round 18 didn’t work as desired, and so he had to settle for 23rd place.
Team-mate Ollie Jackson, who was 26th in qualifying after an engine bay fire late in the session, didn’t get raceday off to the start he wanted when contact on lap three undid early progress. He did work his way back into 21st at the finish, but a five second penalty dropped him to 23rd.
Race two delivered an improved 21st place result, a strong recovery from Jackson after having to pit at the end of lap one following an enforced excursion across the grass and through some advertising hoarding. In round 18 he moved from 21st into 18th on lap one, but slipped back to 21st during the closing stages.
Oly Collins – Motorbase Performance Team Manager:
“What a fantastic result for the whole team! We’ve been knocking on the door all season with a bunch of P2 and P3 finishes, but the win is what the whole team always want to be celebrating. Ash was outstanding all weekend, from that lap in qualifying through to raceday he was just on a different playing field to the other FWD cars. The RWD cars always have a bit of an edge at Knockhill, so to get the win like that at a RWD circuit hopefully bodes well when we get to a more level playing field. We’re looking forward to Snetterton already!”
Ash Sutton – NAPA Racing UK, No.1:
“To take our first win of the season, and NAPA Racing UK’s first in touring cars, is fantastic and especially against all of the BMWs. It was made a little bit easier with Jake’s [Hill] mistake at the chicane, I think he was just trying to match what we were capable of doing through there and that’s been our strongest thing all weekend so I just focused on that and gave it full send every lap. Over the last few laps the front tyres had just had enough, and I was getting to that point as well! I was not letting that one go, I’m just pleased we got the first win for NAPA Racing UK.”
Dan Cammish – NAPA Racing UK, No.9:
“We just can’t seem to catch a break at the moment, no matter what we do we just can’t seem to get the car where I need it to be. We’ve shown on several occasions we’ve got the pace, the tyre test at Snetterton proved that, but in the races this weekend we struggled again to be able to compete how we should. I’m made up for Ash and everyone at NAPA Racing UK and Motorbase with the win, just disappointed the weekend on my side wasn’t better. Races one and two were solid finishes, nothing I could do in race three – again, wrong place at the wrong time. We’ll keep pushing!”
Ollie Jackson – Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan, No.48:
“Not the weekend we hoped for after a part failure put pay to qualifying which unfortunately set the tone for the weekend. We have definitely learnt more about the car since mid season testing and being my old local circuit, I look forward to going back to Snetterton in a couple of weeks time to hopefully get back on track. Great work by the Motorbase team as always and congratulations to Ash on a superb drive for the first win of the season for the team.
Sam Osborne – Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan, No.77:
“We just didn’t have the full-on pace in the car, we had the car – it was handling well and I could race with people – but just not the pace we needed. It’s been a bit of a gutting weekend really, the car felt pointy in the first race and we made some progress but when I realised we were 17th it was a bit disappointing. We regrouped for race two, same result, and so loosened the car up for race three but lost our way a little bit. I feel I drove the proverbial socks off it, a few airborne moments at Turn One which were spectacular for the pictures, but not so much for points and trophies!”
There is only a fortnight to wait until the BTCC resumes for rounds 19, 20 and 21 of the season, over the weekend 13th/14th August, at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk.
2022 BTCC Drivers Championship
3rd Ash Sutton, 221pts; 11th Dan Cammish, 100pts; 22nd Ollie Jackson, 9pts; 25th Sam Osborne, 1pt
2022 BTCC Manufacturers/Constructors Championship
3rd Motorbase Performance/Ford, 414pts
2022 BTCC Teams Championship
3rd NAPA Racing UK, 321pts; 13th Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan, 14pts
2022 Jack Sears Trophy
4th Sam Osborne, 205pts