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SUTTON SCORES SECOND SUCCESSIVE POLE POSITION

NAPA Racing UK’s Ash Sutton claimed his second pole position of the season as the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship continued apace during qualifying at Thruxton today (3 June).

The three-time champion topped a relatively sedate session at the Hampshire circuit with a number of drivers struggling to find the same grip and balance that had greeted them earlier in the day.

Thruxton specialist Josh Cook had set the pace during both practice sessions and was P1 during qualifying at the midway stage of the action, before Sutton set a 1:15.489s benchmark and BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8’s Tom Ingram slotted into second.

Sutton’s NAPA Racing UK team-mate Dan Cammish then clipped the tyre stack at the final chicane, which brought about a brief stoppage to proceedings in order to move them back into position.

A final five minute showdown was seemingly set, but there were no significant movements in the order following the restart and any hope of improvements were completely scuppered when Árón Taylor-Smith’s Vauxhall dropped fluid onto the circuit in the closing moments.

Sutton, Ingram and Cook held the top three positions ahead of a phenomenal effort from BTCC rookie Mikey Doble in his CarStore Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra.

A duo of BMWs were next in the order with Jake Hill (Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport) edging out stablemate Colin Turkington (Team BMW), whilst Andrew Watson and Taylor-Smith completed a fantastic day for CarStore Power Maxed Racing in seventh and eighth respectively.

Cammish had to settle for ninth after his earlier moment and Rory Butcher (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK) rounded out the top ten positions.

Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship take place at Thruxton tomorrow with a huge crowd expected to attend the UK’s fastest circuit, whilst many many more watch the action live on ITV4 from 1115.

Ash Sutton said: “It’s just a phenomenal job, we can’t shout loud enough! The car’s mega! We had a great year here last year and the car was strong then – we’ve only made the car better. All day we’ve just been playing around, tweaking it, fine-tuning it, getting myself in a good place and just roll it all out for qualifying.

“I know Tom’s [Ingram] not going to be making it easy and obviously Josh [Cook] is sat there as well. It’s never easy, it’s always tough but we’ve just got to dial a bit of a race set up, maybe go back to where we were with the car when we first arrived, and as long as I can hang on and keep it all neat and tidy and get off the line, we should be in good shape.”

Tom Ingram said: “It was very tricky with wind picking up and things like that but very pleased to be up on the front row with Ash [Sutton] – a good place to be! I’ll be honest, it was a little unexpected after where our pace has realistically felt out of the car. It’s felt like we have been lacking something this weekend. It’s very good to be back up at the sharper end of the grid.

“We’ve got a little bit of work to do. I think fundamentally we’ve got quite a quick car which is good, it’s just refining it. It’s a classic drivers excuse but I got traffic on my best lap – ironically by Ash [Sutton] but I won’t hold it against him for long!”

Josh Cook said: “I don’t know if there was fluid down or something from the Mini session before. We have our cars set-up in a particular way that’s on the edge, but there was just no grip at all. It was not even a case of are we quick, it was I either stayed on the track or went off. 

“That was the worst session I’ve had here in a long, long time and i’m not happy about it. We know the car is good in the race but it’s not really the point. Not sure what went on there but that was not good. Either way, we are P3, somewhere for us to fight tomorrow. I haven’t got anything to lose so we will see what happens!”

2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Thruxton

1. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK 1:15.489s
2. Tom Ingram, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +0.210s
3. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +0.246s
4. Mikey Doble, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.406s
5. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +0.439s
6. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +0.528s
7. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.545s
8. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +0.618s
9. Dan Cammish, NAPA Racing UK +0.623s
10. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.699s
11. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +0.724s
12. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +0.882s
13. Bobby Thompson, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +0.938s
14. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +1.079s
15. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +1.096s
16. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +1.129s
17. Aiden Moffat, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +1.180s
18. Tom Chilton, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +1.418s 
19. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +1.451s
20. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +1.483s
21. Dexter Patterson, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +1.517s 
22. George Gamble, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +2.041s
23. Jack Butel, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +2.105s
24. Will Powell, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +2.478s
25. Nic Hamilton, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +2.616s
26. Jade Edwards, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +2.951s
27. Nick Halstead, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +3.637s

Penalties:

Ricky Collard was verbally warned for an incident involving Dan Lloyd at Snetterton.

Nick Halstead has had 10 (ten) points deducted from the Drivers’ Championship for having changed a further engine above the number permitted. 

Bobby Thompson has had 5 (five) points deducted from the Drivers’ Championship for having changed an engine above the number permitted.

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