BTCC qualifying sets up thrilling finale in Kent
Tom Ingram left his title rivals in the autumnal shade at Brands Hatch (8 October), as the Hyundai driver obliterated the lap record to take the final pole position in this year’s Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship.
The chasing pack couldn’t get close to Ingram’s ‘lap of the season’, which was more than seven-tenths faster than the previous lap record around the legendary Grand Prix circuit.
The 29-year-old even had time to sit out the final five minutes of the session after extracting all that he could from his Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com machine.
Currently sitting third in the overall standings with only tday’s triple header remaining, Ingram’s attempt to overturn a seven-point deficit will have been seriously boosted with this performance.
Toyota GAZOO Racing UK’s Rory Butcher continued his good run of form – following his own pole position and race victory at Silverstone last time out – by taking second in qualifying, ahead of the NAPA Racing UK duo of Ash Sutton and Dan Cammish.
Standings leader Sutton left it pretty late in the session to elevate up the order after failing to get the best out of his first set of Goodyear tyres, but the triple champion will be pleased to still have Ingram in his sights.
ROKiT MB Motorsport’s Jake Hill – second in the standings and five points behind Sutton – will line up fifth for tomorrow’s opener. The Kent driver produced another good qualifying performance – adding to a pair of pole positions and six front-row starts from earlier in the campaign – as he deservedly won the Goodyear Wingfoot Award for his qualifying efforts over the course of the season.
Aside from the title chase, Bobby Thompson (Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero) and Dexter Patterson (Laser Tools Racing) proved to be two young standout stars on the day as they qualified in sixth and seventh respectively.
Adam Morgan (Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport) and Josh Cook (Rich Energy with BTC Racing) were next in the order, whilst Team BMW’s Colin Turkington could only manage tenth.
Multiple champ Turkington is the outsider for the title after slipping to fourth in the standings at Silverstone last month, and qualifying here will have done little for his overall chances tomorrow.
As we know, however, anything can happen in the BTCC and a quartet of contenders will be gunning for glory in front of a huge crowd trackside at Brands Hatch, whilst many more will watch the action live on ITV4 from 1000.
Tom Ingram said: “I’ve not got words for how good this car felt today; I haven’t even got the nearest hint of a criticism to come up with. I came on the radio to Spencer [engineer] once we’d done the lap and I said ‘mate, this is this is obscene’. Just incredible. I’m really, really pleased, it’s really good. We’ve known all year that qualifying has been really critical, so getting a good qualifying here has been so important. Honestly, I’m so thrilled to get that done, I really, really am.
“Honestly I really really can’t thank Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com enough! I felt so relaxed coming into this weekend, I’ve just felt really chilled, really excited. You know, I’ve felt more excited than anything else. We’ve really put the work in over these last two weeks. I’ve done nothing else but stare at a computer screen with squiggly lines and videos around Brands Hatch GP! So I’m so thrilled to get it done, but testament to the work that’s gone on behind the scenes to make sure that we can hit the ground running and be right where we need to be.”
Rory Butcher said: “I have to say Brands has been a bit of a weak circuit for us. So I came here, my feet on the ground and we were having an open mind in terms of car set-up. Ricky [Collard] went one way and I went in another, then we picked the best of the two and didn’t really know what was going to happen there, but the car was really strong. I think compared to a year ago, we’re in such a better place, it’s great!
“It’s really important that we have a good race tomorrow. Of course, I’m going to be mindful of [the contenders] but at the same time I’m hoping I’m going to be leading into turn one. I want to be beating these guys! All my team here who work so hard deserve a nice trophy, so I’ll be gunning for it tomorrow but being mindful of the championship contenders.”
Ash Sutton said: “At the start of qualifying, we didn’t quite get the first set of tyres hooked up. I was tucked up behind Dan [Cammish] and we didn’t quite get it synced properly in my opinion but then with the second set I went out on my own and I hung on for what the car could give me. It was good enough for P3 – I think we just missed P2 which is a shame – but if we get off the line clean, we can take it to Tom [Ingram] at the start of the race.
“[Jake’s] directly behind me, so we’ve got to have him in the back of our minds, but the focus is on Tom. Obviously he’s looking really strong, so fair play to them guys, but we’re not going to go down that easy.
“Full attack; I want to finish second [in the first race] at least. But we just see what happens with Tom, get stuck in at the start and if we can make progress, we’ll make progress.”
Jake Hill, Goodyear Wingfoot Award winner, said: “At least I’ve won one championship this weekend! It’s a nice thing to have, definitely. We worked our little socks off in qualifying this year. I think the only time we qualified outside the top ten was at Oulton Park when we had a little mishap with Tom Chilton, but nevertheless, it’s been a fantastic year of qualifying and nice to win this lovely trophy.
“I just wanted to out-qualify the other two, to maximise our chances. But I don’t know what Tom’s [Ingram] got under the bonnet, that thing is too fast! We couldn’t catch him all of today, no one could really. So he is going to be extremely hard to beat tomorrow. We’ve got to pull our socks up and just go for it; whatever happens, happens.”
2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Brands Hatch GP
1. Tom INGRAM (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com 1:29.529s
2. Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota GAZOO Racing UK +0.410s
3. Ash SUTTON (GBR) NAPA Racing UK +0.411s
4. Dan CAMMISH (GBR) NAPA Racing UK +0.428s
5. Jake HILL (GBR) ROKiT MB Motorsport +0.501s
6. Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero +0.516s
7. Dexter PATTERSON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +0.642s
8. Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.648s
9. Josh COOK (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +0.698s
10. Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.713s
11. Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +0.769s
12. Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +0.804s
13. George GAMBLE (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +0.809s
14. Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.834s
15. Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.841s
16. Ash HAND (GBR) CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.900s
17. Jason PLATO (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +0.928s
18. Ricky COLLARD (GBR) Toyota GAZOO Racing UK +1.074s
19. Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +1.074s
20. Michael CREES (GBR) CarStore Power Maxed Racing +01.109s
21. Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing +1.117s
22. Tom CHILTON (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +1.159s
23. Ollie JACKSON (GBR) Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan +01.226s
24. Jade EDWARDS (GBR) Rich Energy BTC Racing +1.598
25. Jack BUTEL (GBR) Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 TradePriceCars.com +1.692s
26. Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) Autobrite Direct with JourneyHero +1.917s
27. Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan +1.981s
28. Rick PARFITT (GBR) Uptonsteel with Euro Car Parts Racing +2.578s
29. Nic HAMILTON (GBR) Yazoo with Safuu.com Racing +2.704s