Written by Cameron Gale, Edited by Ishani Aziz
As the dust settles on another weekend of great, action-packed racing a new champion was crowned.
Last weekend the British Touring Car Championship ended with some hard racing. Four contenders were up for the championship: Ash Sutton, Jake Hill, Tom Ingram and Colin Turkington. The top three were separated by seven points, Colin Turkington was a further 21 points behind.
On Saturday we had a very close qualifying session with Tom Ingram taking pole by four tenths and the top 17 were separated by just a second. The top 10 were then:
Tom Ingram, Rory Butcher, Ash Sutton, Dan Cammish, Jake Hill, Bobby Thompson (with his best qualifying of the season), Dexter Patterson, Adam Morgan, Josh Cook and Colin Turkington. Tom Chilton, who had engine issues, stopped on the side of the track with two minutes to go so race control allowed for five minutes of qualifying after the car had been cleared. Despite that, no one could beat Tom Ingram’s time of a 1:29.529. Afterwards, Turkington was realistically out of the race for the title.
However, points aren’t awarded for Saturday, but for the Sunday. With Sunday being the test for the drivers, and most of the championship contenders were inside the top five, with only Colin Turkington managing tenth. In Race One, Tom Ingram managed a lights-to-flag victory, but further back Ash Sutton and Jake Hill were battling each other for third and as you’d expect Hill managed to get up the inside of him at the fast right-handed of Dingle Dell. Colin Turkington managed to get up to fifth with some help from his teammate Stephen Jelley.
The top ten by the end of Race One changed somewhat, with Tom Ingram coming out first, followed by Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Rory Butcher and Jake Hill rounding out the podium. Ash Sutton followed closely behind in fourth with Colin Turkington in fifth. In sixth Cicely with Car God’s Adam Morgan, followed by Bobby Thompson in seventh. George Gamble was eighth with Ash Sutton’s teammate Dan Cammish in ninth and finally Stephen Jelley in tenth.
After that round, Tom Ingram had the lead of the championship by three points as Ash Sutton was second in the championship and Jake Hill was a further three points behind Sutton. Sadly, Colin Turkington was all but out of it now.
In the Race Two, Tom Ingram got yet another lights-to-flag victory showcasing his title-winning Hyundai i30N. Jake Hill managed a respectable second and his teammate Colin Turkington finished in third. Rory Butcher was fourth and Ash Sutton had dropped to fifth. Adam Morgan and Josh Cook had a very good battle for sixth but in the end Adam Morgan was victorious. Dan Cammish finished in eighth Bobby Thompson finished in ninth and Daniel Lloyd finished in tenth. After that race Tom Ingram was yet again in charge of the championship but Jake Hill was now 11 points behind with Ash Sutton one point behind him.
The reverse grid draw put Ingram’s teammate Dan Lloyd on pole so Lloyd would have to try and help his teammate as best he could as Ingram would have to try and fight his way up to tenth as Sutton and Hill were ahead of him.
The third and final race of the season was chaotic as Dan Lloyd and Josh Cook battled for first place. The title contenders were making their way through the field as Tom Ingram managed to move up to seventh. Ingram then found his two other title rivals; Ash Sutton and Jake Hill battling for fourth position where Sutton would get fourth but Ingram would get fifth. Hill would unfortunately understeer his BMW into the gravel trap at the Paddock Hill bend, but managed to rejoin the race at seventh. Sutton’s teammate Dan Cammish attempted to make Ingram hit Adam Morgan a few laps earlier by hitting Morgan on the side. Morgan spun directly into Ingram’s path. Despite the drama, Tom Ingram won his first Driver’s Championship, with Ash Sutton coming second, and Hill managing to climb his way to third.
In a post-race Interview Ash Sutton admitted “Tom has fought for that title for so many years and I think the best man won”. He went on to say:
“We didn’t have the package to match him this weekend, which is a shame, but it’s nice to see him win it and all the emotion come out. I haven’t told him yet that I’ve only loaned him it for a year though, and we’ll come back stronger next year to try and get it back!”
Sutton added he was proud of his performance on track, with the 382 points scored this season being more than in any of his three previous title winning campaigns:
“I think a lot of people had written us off earlier in the season but there was a lot of work that went into the car during the middle of the season to dial it into the hybrid,” he said. “That allowed us to come back into contention and we got into a position where we were leading the way heading into the finale, but it wasn’t our day to win the trophy.
“We’re all hungry to win it and our focus over the winter will be on working towards that goal. However, it’s great that we were able to win the team's title for NAPA Racing in its first season – which is something we can all be proud of.”
Now we look forward to the 2023 British Touring Car Championship which is set to kick off at Donington Park on the 22-23rd of April.