Ashley Sutton navigated two Safety Car restarts to claim victory once again in the second Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship race at Knockhill. Colin Turkington was once again second, which sees his championship advantage reduced to just eight points.
Sutton led from pole as Turkington tried to go around the outside as the field flooded their way into turn one. Rory Butcher got a great start from fifth but was squeezed onto the grass by the slow-starting Jake Hill, allowing Tom Ingram to fight his way through into third.
There was heartbreak for Josh Cook and the BTC Racing team as he was tapped into a spin by Jack Butel, as he tried to give Sam Osborne room on the inside of him on a tight opening lap.
The Safety Car was brought out to recover the stricken Honda Civic Type-R FK8, extending the race to 26 laps.
The restart saw Sutton lead the way from Turkington as Butcher tried to go up the inside of Hill at Scotsman but locked-up, forcing both wide which allowed Dan Cammish to move into fourth and start his assault on the leading trio who were all line astern.
The Safety Car was brought back out on lap 13 as Andy Neate went off at Scotsman, closing the gaps all back up again. This was bad luck for Matt Neal who was handed a 10-second time penalty because of a false start.
The second restart of the race saw Aiden Moffat move into fifth ahead of Tom Oliphant as Tom Chilton demoted Hill down to eighth.
The top two of Sutton and Turkington pulled a couple of seconds ahead of third-placed Ingram who was defending desperately hard from Cammish, with no-one able to pull that decisive overtake.
Sutton came through to claim his second race win of the day, making him the most winningest driver of the season so far. Turkington finished second with Ingram hanging onto third.
“I’m over the moon,” said Sutton. “I think I can say that it’s the best touring car I’ve ever driven. Obviously, Colin put some huge pressure on at the start and we can never match what the BMW can do off the line, so that was my biggest concern. And from then on it was just a case of managing Colin from there.
“You saw he was constantly there; I was always having to look in my mirrors. I defended probably four or five times more than I did in race one. So, it definitely shifted to his favour. He made one slight error three-quarters of the way through the race which just gave me that margin again to bring it home.
“I want to strap myself back in and have another go! It’s still very early doors, it’s only the fourth meeting of the season, so there’s a long way to go yet. But this was my prime time to do that, this weekend, and we’ve done exactly that in races one and two.”
Turkington was once again happy with second, although he was left feeling a little frustrated.
“It was very much like race one; the car’s evenly matched over the course of the run and I was at full tilt to try to stay with Ash and make a move, but he just has a bit more pace than us today,” responded Turkington. “We’ve gone to other tracks where we’ve been stronger, but Ash has got it dialled maybe a bit better than us. I think track position counts for a lot too. If you’re in the lead you can manage things, set your pace, it’s a good position to be in. But P2 for BMW again is a fantastic result, more points and hopefully I can reverse the position for race three!
“We’re at Knockhill in August which tricks your mind. It makes you think we’re nearing the end of the season but in any other year we’re really only at Oulton Park, we’re only four weekends in. I’m keeping that to the forefront of my mind and conscious just to keep scoring really good points. We’ve got a long season ahead; we go until mid-November which is a long way away.”
Ingram finished in third after a great start where he was battling for the lead early on. Cammish was fourth with Moffat scoring his best result of the season in fifth.
Oliphant was sixth with Chilton in seventh and Hill in eighth.
Chris Smiley was ninth with Butcher in 10th after a trip through the gravel whilst Senna Proctor came home 11th.
Carl Boardley secured his best ever finish in the BTCC with a 12th place finish with Ollie Jackson behind in 13th, Adam Morgan in 14th and Neal scoring just a single-point in 15th after his 10-second time penalty.
Header image courtesy of BTCC/Jakob Ebrey
By Jordan Hollands.