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Sutton on top for Motorbase
Sutton on top for Motorbase

NAPA Racing UK celebrated its maiden race victory in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill Circuit in Scotland, 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 for the Wrotham team. 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.

Speaking after the weekend, Oly Collins, Motorbase Performance Team Manager, said: “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 rear-wheel drive circuit hopefully bodes well when we get to a more level playing field. We’re looking forward to Snetterton already!”

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