After a championship-turning weekend last time out at Thruxton, the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads to Silverstone this weekend for rounds 16, 17 and 18 of this much condensed and highly competitive season.
For the first time this season Ashley Sutton leads the title challenge, after a troublesome weekend for Northern Irishman Colin Turkington who suffered from a misfire in the opening race before battling his way back to a 13th and an eighth in races two and three.
As a result, Sutton leads the drivers’ championship from Turkington by 16 points, meaning he will go into this weekend’s action with maximum ballast on-board.
“It’s never really how you want to see your main championship rival go out, in terms of him having a bit of bad luck,” admitted Sutton. “We’ve obviously nicked the championship lead away from him, but we’re going to take it.
“We had some bad luck at Donington Park earlier in the season and this counteracts that to some extent. I’m in a very good position but we all know touring cars, you know how quick it can change. One minute it’s all going swimmingly and the next you’re getting tagged or having a mechanical issue.
“You’ve just got to be mindful of those things still being able to happen. I don’t like going into a race weekend with full ballast, as we will at Silverstone, but overall, it’s a fantastic position to be in.”
Turkington was bitterly disappointed with his weekend at Thruxton and is looking to bounce back at Silverstone this weekend.
“It’s always so important to finish race one; your entire day evolves from that result,” explained Turkington. “When something happens then, it derails the weekend. Thruxton is a difficult circuit to overtake, and you have to force errors to make progress. It also tends to favour the front wheel drive cars, so I was really up against it. You’re hoping to move forwards and maybe luck into the reversed grid for the final race, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
“It was critical for me to stop haemorrhaging points and I had to pull out all the stops. I’d have liked to make more progress to be honest, but when we took the weight out for race two, things didn’t come together as well as we would have liked. But all in all, we should be proud of having gone forwards because it was clear to see doing that, wasn’t easy to achieve. The team kept their spirit and kept on digging deep throughout the day. And on the tough days, that is never more important.
“You always expect a bump or two on the journey and this was one of them. These things happen and nobody is to blame. We just have to take it on the chin, dust ourselves down and go again. It’s frustrating when you put so much work into an event and you come away with little reward, but that work never goes to waste. We’ll move on, keep grafting and put it right next time out.”
His Team BMW teammate, Tom Oliphant secured a healthy points haul across the three races in Hampshire with an eighth, and two sixth-place finishes, consolidating his top-six position in the overall standings.
Team BMW still lead both the teams’ and manufacturers championship from Halfords Yuasa Racing and Honda respectively.
A double race win saw Tom Ingram reignite his championship challenge as he now sits third in the drivers’ standings, 32 points behind championship leader Sutton.
Ingram announced his delight at the weekend by stating; “I’m well chuffed. If I’m being honest, I didn’t expect to be getting two wins coming into this weekend. I wanted a podium and I wanted to be up there, but I didn’t think I’d get two wins, so full credit to the guys and girls at Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters. We’ve put a hell of a package together this weekend and it feels very exciting.”
Ingram took two race wins at Silverstone last year and will be hoping for similar results again this weekend, to further cement his title challenge.
Josh Cook claimed victory in the third and final race of the day at Thruxton, leading home his BTC Racing teammate Tom Chilton.
Header image courtesy of BTCC/Jakob Ebrey
By Jordan Hollands.