Five star Sutton secures Donington Park pole

Top two BTCC title contenders to line-up on the front row

NAPA Racing UK’s Ash Sutton secured his fifth pole position of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship, as the standings leader starred on the series’ long awaited return to the Donington Park Grand Prix circuit.

Reigning champion Tom Ingram led the way during the first half of the session and then traded blows with old adversary Sutton as the talented duo duelled it out for P1.

Ingram looked to have one final opportunity at stealing the bragging rights and was marginally up midway through his final flying lap. A slight lock-up in the final sector, however, scuppered his chances as the BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 man narrowly fell short.

Sutton even had time to best his own benchmark, setting up a tantalising front row for tomorrow’s BTCC opener.

Ricky Collard produced his best qualifying result of the season with third on the grid for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK, whilst Team BMW’s Colin Turkington was fourth, ahead of another impressive run for CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Árón Taylor-Smith.

Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) and Josh Cook (One Motorsport with Starline Racing) looked to be in leading contention during the early exchanges, but both eventually had to settle for sixth and seventh respectively, with the former also facing a three-place grid penalty following an incident at Knockhill last time out.

Team BMW’s Adam Morgan – keen to turn around a challenging season so far – was eighth, whilst Ronan Pearson (BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8) continued his eye-catching progression in the BTCC with ninth.

NAPA Racing UK’s Dan Rowbottom was tenth, rounding out a topsy-turvy day for the leading Ford Focus outfit.

The action started several hours prior with Dan Cammish setting the pace late on in FP1, before a significant shunt forced him out of the remainder of the weekend. Whilst Cammish was fine – albeit slightly sore from the high speed impact – his #27 NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus was damaged beyond repair.

Rounds 22, 23, and 24 of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship take place at Donington Park tomorrow, with the action commencing on ITV4 from 1115.

Ash Sutton said: “This is something that will go down in the history books. It’s a big statement from NAPA Racing UK to take every single pole up to this point – it’s an unreal achievement. It’ll be a disappointing act if we don’t finish it off.

“He can drive a car fast [Ingram]. When he put his time in and took pole off me I was like ‘agh really give me a break’ but I knew there was a bit of time left in there.

“All eyes are on that [championship] trophy, I’m not going to lie – full focus is on that. We’ve got to be careful, but we’ll do what we’ve been doing with a slightly more reserved approach and then we should be in a good place.”

Tom Ingram said: “It actually feels like we stood a chance today. Unfortunately, Ash [Sutton] did his thing behind the wheel and that was that, but never mind.

“I’ve got a face that could turn milk sour at the moment but I am pleased, and I genuinely think we’re fighting against Ash and the NAPA guys this weekend, which is really encouraging.

“We’ve definitely gone away and done as much homework as we can. We’ve worked hard over the last few weeks, so let’s wait and see what race day brings – anything could happen.”

Ricky Collard said: “Yeah, to be honest it wasn’t the best lap, I didn’t really get it quite right. I don’t really know where it came from, we were chatting earlier and I was down in second last.

“I didn’t quite maximise it as I kept making little mistakes. I lost the rear a couple of times. Maybe we changed a touch too much. At the tyre test we were P2 and made a change half way through that session to go with even more oversteer. I said to the guys under the red flag we’re risking it here, but it was a good call I guess.”

2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Donington Park GP

1. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK 1:33.154
2. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.182s
3. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.396s
4. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +0.437s
5. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.488s
6. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +0.569s
7. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +0.688s
8. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +0.701s
9. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.750s
10. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +0.790s
11. Tom Chilton, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.835s
12. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.846s
13. Aiden Moffat, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +0.898s
14. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.913s
15. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +0.945s
16. Mikey Doble, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.983s
17. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +1.009s
18. George Gamble, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +1.067s
19. Michael Crees, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +1.145s
20. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +1.297s
21. Dexter Patterson, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +1.329s
22. Jack Butel, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +1.616s
23. Jade Edwards, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +1.755s
24. Daryl DeLeon, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +2.004s