Strong start for Sutton and NAPA Racing UK

7th May 2024

NAPA Racing enjoyed a solid start to the new Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season with a podium hat-trick at Donington Park, as reigning champ Ash Sutton led the way for the Ford Focus ST outfit.

Although not the quickest car in practice, Dan Cammish, Dan Rowbottom and Sutton would all lap within the top ten and were widely expected to be in the mix for top spot in qualifying later on Saturday – although it would end with mixed results.

Making it through to the final stage of the new three-part qualifying session in mixed weather conditions, Sutton just missed out on putting the #1 car on pole as the leading NAPA Racing UK entry.

It was a more difficult session for the other three cars however, with Sam Osborne falling in Q2 to sit 11th, with Rowbottom and Cammish down in 14th and 17th respectively on the grid after tyre choice proved pivotal in the wet/dry running of Q1.

Osborne had a dramatic off into the barrier going down the Craner Curves on lap one of race one, which resulted in a lengthy safety car period before the action got underway in earnest. Sutton would race to a solid second place to secure the first podium finish of the year for the team, with Cammish showing the pace of the Focus to fight his way through into eighth.

Rowbottom was also working his way towards the top ten before being forced to pit with damage to the bonnet, ultimately leading to his retirement late on.

Slipping to third at the start of race two behind a fast-starting BMW, Sutton battled his way back ahead of Jake Hill late on to equal his result from the earlier race, whilst Cammish continued his recovery from qualifying as he fought his way up into the top six.

Whilst Osborne was unable to take the start as the team worked to repair his damaged car, Rowbottom stormed from the back of the grid to take tenth, setting the second-fastest lap of the race in the process.

Sutton completed a podium hat-trick in race three with a typically attacking run through to third place, with Rowbottom recovering from contact with the Toyota of Andrew Watson on lap two – which dropped him down to 18th spot – to fight his way back through to eighth.

Cammish lost places when the lights went out as his car bogged down off the line but would recover to take tenth, with Osborne grabbing the final point after the team worked hard to get him back out on track to contest the finale.

At the end of the opening weekend, Sutton sits second in the standings – nine points off top spot – as the lead NAPA Racing UK runner, with the team sitting top of the Teams’ Championship ahead of the next meeting at Brands Hatch.

Hear what Sutton had to say after the final race at Donington Park... © 2024
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