Image: Sutton passes Taylor-Smith on final lap of Race 2
Sutton versus Ingram after title duo star at Silverstone
Bavarian marque BMW also celebrate following 150th BTCC victory
Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship proved to be a memorable occasion at Silverstone (23/24 September) with plenty of reasons to celebrate for this season's leading lights.
BMW scored its 149th and 150th victories in the UK’s premier motorsport championship – thanks to triumphs from Jake Hill and Colin Turkington – but it was arguably Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram’s surge through the pack in race two that had the crowd on its collective feet.
Hill’s race one success was followed by despair for the Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport man, whilst Turkington’s day improved dramatically following a dismal start, but both drivers ultimately left Silverstone with their hopes of securing the Drivers’ title now over.
Sutton’s race two victory was a highlight as both he and Ingram came from way back on the grid to reach the rostrum, before the pair scooped yet more silverware in the final encounter.
Three-time champion Sutton now leads the Drivers’ standings by 45 points from Ingram – with 67 still on offer – as the duo now go head-to-head for the title at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time.
BMW remains in charge as it targets a record tenth Manufacturers’ crown, whilst Josh Cook moved into an unassailable lead in the Independents Drivers’ table.
NAPA Racing UK and One Motorsport with Starline Racing will also be looking to officially wrap up the Teams’ and Independents Teams’ titles at the legendary Grand Prix circuit in Kent.
The final BTCC event of the season will take place at Brands Hatch on 7/8 October with tens of thousands of spectators expected to attend with many more watching the action live on ITV4.
Hill makes correct tyre call to win race one
Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport’s Hill made a late call on the grid to switch to Goodyear wet tyres, as he left his fellow contenders in his wake to win the opening BTCC race at Silverstone.
Drizzly conditions led to a chaotic pre-grid as teams and drivers had a critical call to make, with the vast majority of the top ten choosing to stick with slick rubber.
The tide turned – quite literally – just a few minutes before the contest as the rain began to get heavier, suggesting that Hill and a number of others lower down the order had made the right decision.
Further drama followed for pole-sitter Mikey Doble when CarStore Power Maxed Racing seemed to make a mistake during the green flag procedure as the driver was informed to continue for an unscheduled second lap, whilst the rest of the grid took up their positions.
With Doble now out of contention it was left to the four main title protagonists to battle it out, which Hill dealt with comfortably as he blasted away with the correct rubber beneath his BMW 330e M Sport.
A fully jumbled order finally settled as Hill won from NAPA Racing UK’s Dan Rowbottom, with the latter getting the better of CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Andrew Watson in the closing stages.
Sensational Sutton strikes again
NAPA Racing UK’s Sutton produced one of the finest performances of his illustrious BTCC career so far, as the Ford Focus racer fought from 23rd on the grid to score an extraordinary victory.
Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) looked to be cruising to a second victory of the day while Sutton and fellow title contender Ingram (BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8) were battling their way through the order, until a safety car intervention threw the contest wide open.
The BMW 330e M Sport of Hill seemed to slow with a misfire problem following the restart and although able to continue he was quickly shuffled down the order, and ultimately out of the championship fight.
Sutton and Ingram had fought their way into the top six by that point and neither were done there as they continued picking off the front-runners until the finish.
The move that really mattered from Sutton’s #116 NAPA-backed car came on the final lap as he dived down the inside of leader Árón Taylor-Smith (CarStore Power Maxed Racing) and into the lead, whilst Ingram had got by Rory Butcher (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK) for third.
With Sutton and Ingram starting the race 23rd and 22nd respectively, it was a true testament of their undoubted talent to see them reach the rostrum as their title battle intensifies towards an unmissable climax.
Turkington takes BMW’s 150th BTCC victory
Four-time champion Turkington scored BMW’s 150th victory in the BTCC, as the tin-top legend triumphed in the reverse-grid race around the 1.64-mile National circuit.
Pole-sitter Michael Crees (Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils) was eased out of the lead early on as NAPA Racing UK’s Rowbottom initially took over top spot.
Team BMW’s Turkington was making progress in the early laps, too, as he soon hauled his #4 machine alongside Rowbottom and into the lead.
Rowbottom was fending off the BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai duo of Ronan Pearson and Ingram, whilst Sutton soon joined the battle.
Ingram slipped by Rowbottom as he hit the hybrid button with the pair crossing the start/finish line, and Sutton was eventually up to third after a late race shuffle.
The final word on this race goes to Turkington – a fitting man to take the 150th win for the famous Bavarian marque – with BMW also still gunning for its tenth Manufacturers' title.
Ash Sutton said: “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 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, and Árón [Taylor-Smith] was one of those and it just happened to be on the last lap for the win. 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.
“The aim is to get some points in race one at Brands Hatch and then plan the rest of the day, but we have a 45-point margin for the lead so I can’t ask for much more than that.”
Tom Ingram said: “Yeah, that [second] race was mental, probably very similar to Ash’s [Sutton] race. We just had to have the headlights on and come through. I love it when it’s like that – it’s so much fun. On the first lap someone came in like a torpedo at Brooklands and I had to completely avoid the shunt and lost six or seven places to Ash it felt like. I was hoping towards the end there would be a little battle between ourselves, which would have been great. It was really great to come back through and rescue the result out of what could have been nothing.
“The adrenaline is still going – its coursing through your veins. There’s so much energy, so much excitement and so much that could go right or wrong. Such a game of chess. There is so much risk – do you take it? When do you stick your nose in? Trying to avoid other people if they’re fighting for their own race, but it was great fun and the BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 car was feeling great so this is exciting – feeling fast and feeling good.”
Jake Hill said: “There were no safety car [in race one] so that was a surprise – so many people were still on slicks. We were sat on the grid, and I thought let’s just do it. The risk versus reward just didn’t add up for me and it came through.
“I was in this amazing rhythm. That only happens once or twice in a year when you find that rhythm and it was just amazing. This win is for Dan Kirby, my former Team Principal at Trade Price Cars Racing. I loved Dan to bits and my thoughts are with his family and friends. This one is for you Dan.”
Colin Turkington said: “It seemed slicks were the way to go in race one, but we made the wrong call. I then struggled in race two for balance even though I was making progress. The car just wasn’t in the window then, but it was in race three. I could see Tom [Ingram] in P2 and the lights getting closer, but I had a few more hybrid laps than him. It was nice to still feel in control at the end.
“Since I joined BTCC and West Surrey Racing in 2009 we had a great run of success – the BMW has always been a potent weapon in BTCC. We go to Brands Hatch with some work to do, but the cars are looking fast, and I hope we can end the season on the high.”
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 1 – Silverstone
1. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport 22 Laps
2. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +5.355s
3. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +7.430s
4. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +19.464s
5. Bobby Thompson, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +20.642s
6. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +21.197s
7. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +22.257s
8. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +22.776s
9. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +27.538s
10. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +29.078s
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 2 – Silverstone
1. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK 24 Laps
2. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.411s
3. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +1.405s
4. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +2.257s
5. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +2.578s
6. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +3.093s
7. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +3.774s
8. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +3.942s
9. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +4.659s
10. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +4.984s
2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 3 – Silverstone
1. Colin Turkington, Team BMW 25 Laps
2. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +2.559s
3. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK +5.541s
4. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +4.984s
5. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +8.583s
6. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +9.389s
7. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +10.693s
8. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +14.564s
9. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +017.090s
10. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +17.287s
Jack Butel was officially reprimanded and received two penalty points during Round 26 of the Championship, for an incident with Dexter Patterson.
Aiden Moffat was officially reprimanded and received two penalty points during Round 26 of the Championship, for an incident with Jake Hill.
Adam Morgan was officially reprimanded and received two penalty points during Round 26 of the Championship, for an incident with Rory Butcher.