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Motorbase Performance ‘more determined than ever’ for 2023

Motorbase Performance celebrated a superb season in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in style at the squad’s local track, Brands Hatch (8/9 October), winning the BTCC Teams’ Championship with its NAPA Racing UK entry.

Marking an outstanding achievement in the debut season of NAPA Racing UK, the squad – comprised of drivers Ash Sutton and Dan Cammish – won the coveted crown 57 points clear of their nearest rivals, while Motorbase Performance/Ford took second in the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ battle.

Furthermore, Sutton ended his maiden campaign with Motorbase and NAPA, and his first since 2016 with a front-wheel drive car, as the Drivers’ Vice-Champion having gone into the last race at the 2.43-mile Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit still with a chance of securing a fourth career title.

With so much at stake, the action was always set to be first class, and Round 28 delivered from the outset. Sutton, from third on the grid, launched well with fellow second-row starter Cammish attempting to keep Jake Hill’s rear-wheel drive BMW at bay.

Contact early on left damage which hampered progress, but Sutton held onto third and a pressure-filled race followed. Two early Safety Car periods punctuated the action and at the second restart Sutton was the victim of another hit. In the end, having struggled with speed issues as well, he took fourth after Hill went past on lap 16 and Cammish finished ninth.

From the second row in race two Sutton made a great start to shadow title rival Hill, but after a handful of laps he began to lose ground and instead came under immense pressure from Colin Turkington. On lap eight, at Surtees, the four-time champion went through, and Sutton would maintain fifth to the flag despite further attacks from George Gamble and Adam Morgan’s BMWs.

In the sister NAPA Racing UK car, Cammish lost a couple of places on the first lap to drop to 11th but fought back well to reclaim both. Climbing into the top ten on lap four, Cammish took ninth from Bobby Thompson on lap six and then took eighth at the finish due to a time penalty for Gamble.

Going into the final contest occupying third in the Drivers’ Standings and 14 points shy of the championship lead, Sutton had a huge task ahead of him but did all he possibly could and raced incredibly hard to battle back from a sluggish start, which dropped him from sixth to ninth, to climb into the podium placings. In the end, he had to settle for a fighting fourth place, but it was enough to claim the runner-up spot.

Cammish began the race from third on the grid and instantly grabbed second on the run into Paddock Hill Bend, but after contact from behind forced him wide he dropped to seventh. Again doing a fantastic team job, Cammish kept Sutton’s chief rivals at bay for some time but eventually finished the final round in eighth place.

Apec Racing with Beavis Morgan’s Ollie Jackson started race one from 23rd place in his Ford Focus, resplendent in its new NASCAR-themed Valvoline livery, and made progress up the order into 19th before the second of the Safety Car periods. Gaining another place on lap 14, his race was then run on the next tour when heavy contact at Surtees from a rival triggered retirement.

Jackson lined up alongside his team-mate Sam Osborne for race two, starting in 24th spot, and made steady progress over the first few laps. By the fifth tour he was in 21st position, but soon after he was then on the receiving end of several attacks – dropping to 24th by lap seven but ultimately taking 23rd at the finish to follow Osborne home.

Starting 23rd for Round 30, Jackson raced well and gained places early on, and was into the top 20 before mid-distance. With plenty of action throughout, he finished the last race of the campaign in 22nd place.

Osborne started off the final weekend of the BTCC season on the backfoot, when a clutch problem ruled him out of the opening practice session. With a knock-on impact to qualifying, he had to settle for 27th on the grid for the opener. The #77 driver moved up the order towards the top 20 during the race, before an unfortunate race-ending excursion at Paddock Hill Bend on the penultimate lap.

In race two, Osborne put together a great opening tour to move up from 23rd into the top 20 and he wasn’t done there after taking 19th on lap two. Edged back a position on lap four, Osborne then lost a couple more places during the second half of the encounter to end the contest in 22nd, right on the tail of Michael Crees’ Vauxhall Astra.

The championship finale was the best of the bunch for Osborne with a terrific drive toward the points, just missing out on his second top-15 of the year. Leaping into 18th place from 22nd on the grid, Osborne was 17th during an early Safety Car period and raced very impressively to take 16th late on.

“Not quite the fairy tale ending we were all hoping for, but the whole team can hold their heads high this season,” said Team Manager Oly Collins. “Winning the Teams’ Championship is a huge achievement in the BTCC and we proved numerous times this season to be the envy of others with our incredible team spirit. There were a lot of changes over the winter which can often take time to work effectively, but the mixture of the original crew and the new members of the team proved to create a winning formula – a team I’m incredibly proud to be a part of!

“Congratulations to Tom Ingram and his team on a job well done this season. We now get to concentrate fully on some exciting plans over the winter with NAPA Racing UK and we’re more determined than ever to come back and claim the number ‘1’ back from Tom next year.”

“We gave it our all, and it wasn’t enough unfortunately but the boys and girls at NAPA Racing UK, Motorbase and Mountune have all turned this package around,” added Sutton. “At the start of the year we had a qualifying car, not a race car, and I think everyone wrote us off to some extent. We’ve proved them wrong being in with a shout of the championship into the last race. We all want the Drivers’ title, but we’ve wrapped up the Teams’ Championship for NAPA and that shows what me and Dan have extracted from the car. I can’t thank everyone enough.”

“The day got away from us in a way, I’m disappointed about that,” admitted Cammish. “In race one I sort of shot myself in the foot, I was so desperate to help Ash I just over-cooked it and then got caught up in dramas. I turned the corner for the next one, drove really well and we were racey. Race three, starting third, I thought we’ve got a great chance, but I didn’t even make it through Turn Two – you do everything right and then get hit by someone. You think to yourself, what do I have to do? But, obviously, we’ve won the Teams’ title so there’s a lot to be proud of.”

“I kind of thought we’d turned a corner, but we’ve just not had the sweet spot all weekend,” reflected Jackson. “I struggled to find a balance on Saturday and didn’t really hook it up for the races. I got beaten up in the first race and second race, I was hoping to make a bit more progress in the third race but it didn’t work out. It’s a shame to have ended the season this way after a positive upturn. There are some positives to take away, more lows than highs – it’s been educational!”

“I’m gutted really that we didn’t quite get into the points,” said Osborne. “But if you’d said at the start of the weekend we’d come away with 16th place I would have said ‘no way’. We missed FP1 with a clutch problem, which meant it was an engine-out job and a full strip down, so the guys did an amazing job to get me into FP2. From there, we’re on the backfoot and it was a knock-on effect all weekend. We went quicker and quicker each time we went out, so it was a shame. But I’m looking forward to 2023 now!”

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