BTCC gears up for penultimate race day of the season
Toyota GAZOO Racing UK’s Rory Butcher claimed his second successive Silverstone pole position earlier today (24 September), as the Scotsman set the pace during qualifying for Round 25 of the 2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
Having secured the top spot during the same event last season, Butcher has had to wait a full calendar year to repeat the trick as the #6 Toyota driver produced a fantastic performance around the 1.64-mile National Circuit.
While Butcher still has a slender chance of winning the Drivers’ title this season, he knows that a good day tomorrow will fire him into the fight for another top-five finishing position overall.
Jake Hill was in celebratory mood after the session as he finished higher than the main championship contenders to claim second on the grid for tomorrow’s opener.
The ROKiT MB Motorsport car had already clocked an impressive lap time early on, having received a tow from BMW stablemate Stephen Jelley, but Hill had some speed left in the tank as he improved further in the latter stages.
Adam Morgan scored his best qualifying result of the season so far with third, the Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport driver having shown good speed throughout the day.
Title challenger and Silverstone specialist Tom Ingram will line up fourth for tomorrow’s opener as the Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com man held off the challenges from NAPA Racing UK’s Dan Cammish and Toyota GAZOO Racing UK’s Ricky Collard.
Reigning champion Ash Sutton was seventh although the NAPA Racing UK star was unable to show the ultimate pace during qualifying. Sutton is just six points off the standings’ summit and will target his first-ever BTCC win at Silverstone tomorrow afternoon.
Halfords Racing with Cataclean’s Gordon Shedden and Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com’s Daniel Lloyd were eighth and ninth respectively, whilst championship leader Colin Turkington completed the top ten positions.
Team BMW’s Turkington – running without additional hybrid power during qualifying by virtue of his standings lead – will have been further frustrated to see three of his championship rivals ahead of him.
It remains to be seen whether Sutton, Ingram or Hill can make inroads into the Northern Irishman’s points advantage tomorrow afternoon, but the grid is perfectly poised for a thrilling penultimate BTCC event.
Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of the 2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship take place at Silverstone tomorrow with all three races being screened live and exclusively on ITV4 from 1100.
Rory Butcher said: “That felt really good. I didn’t know whether pole was going to happen in that session, obviously we got pole here last year and I didn’t require a tow, I did this year; I had to be quite strategic. The car’s handling was amazing and just reminded me of the feeling I had in the car last year. It’s nice to be back on pole, it’s been a whole year! A whole season’s worth of no pole positions. But we’re back and it sets us up so well for tomorrow. I’m so pleased!
“I’m the only driver in the top 12 that doesn’t have a race win, but we’ve put ourselves in a good position for tomorrow, so we’ll be gunning for a win. I’m just so pleased for the team. I’ve got my family here this weekend, my two kids and my wife Joy – I think they bring me a bit of luck as well, it’s great!
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’ve been strong off the line this year – that’s one of my strengths – so hopefully we’ll get a good run off the line and then we can have a nice race!”
Jake Hill said: “I was watching it [the final minutes] biting my nails, just praying that we were going to end up P2 and we did. Huge credit to the team and my engineer Craig who’s in hospital with pneumonia so I hope he gets well soon, but a big well done to the team. ROKiT MB Motorsport has given me a car that I can really fight for this championship with.
“I did that great time early on which put me second just behind Rory [Butcher] and that time stayed for a while, but I had another go right at the end and I went four-hundredths of a second faster. I thought ‘have I done it?’ but no, not quite. Gutted to not have beaten Rory, but at least it’s him on the front row and not one of my championship competitors.
“Starting on the front row is massively important, especially against Colin [Turkington] who’s P10, I know Tom [Ingram] is right with me but Ash [Sutton] and Colin are a little bit further down so we’ve just got to make this work now whilst we can.”
Adam Morgan said: “We maximised all the advantages we had with the hybrid. Unfortunately though, having lots of hybrid means you’re low down in the championship which is not what we want. But there’s two events left to go, and we know we’ve got a quick car. We’ve had some bad luck along the way, some technical issues, but let’s go out and finish the season where we should be!
“I don’t know what to expect with the cooler temperatures. It’s a step into the unknown for everybody as the day progresses and you get more rubber put down with the other categories going out. But I went out in that second tyre run then and must have done seven or eight laps bang on the same time. So our race pace is strong and I’m looking forward to having a go tomorrow.”
2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Silverstone
1. Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota GAZOO Racing UK 57.374s
2. Jake HILL (GBR) ROKiT MB Motorsport +0.037s
3. Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.088s
4. Tom INGRAM (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.123s
5. Dan CAMMISH (GBR) NAPA Racing UK +0.130s
6. Ricky COLLARD (GBR) Toyota GAZOO Racing UK +0.139s
7. Ash SUTTON (GBR) NAPA Racing UK +0.189s
8. Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.236s
9. Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.300s
10. Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.311s
11. Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +0.350s
12. Josh COOK (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +0.385s
13. Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan +0.406s
14. Tom CHILTON (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.410s
15. Ash HAND (GBR) CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.415s
16. Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero +0.427s
17. George GAMBLE (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.465s
18. Jack BUTEL (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.492s
19. Jason PLATO (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +0.524s
20. Michael CREES (GBR) CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.542s
21. Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.544s
22. Dexter PATTERSON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.560s
23. Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing +0.600s
24. Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.668s
25. Jade EDWARDS (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +0.828s
26. Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan +0.882s
27. Nic HAMILTON (GBR) Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing +1.247s
28. Will POWELL (GBR) Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero +1.469s
29. Rick PARFITT (GBR) Uptonsteel with Euro Car Parts Racing +1.656s
Free Practice 1
Will Powell received an official reprimand and had his licence endorsed by the addition of two penalty points