Jake Hill, Ash Sutton and rookie George Gamble scored a win apiece as the BTCC returned to the track following a five-week, mid-season break.
It was a classic weekend of BTCC action with tight racing and multiple positional changes, as Team BMW’s Colin Turkington proved that consistency is key – two podium finishes and a fourth place meant the 3-Series driver leads the championship by five points from Hyundai racer Tom Ingram, with NAPA Racing UK’s Ash Sutton in third.
Hill and Sutton’s great battle
The weekend got off to a thrilling start, as Hill converted his pole position into an early lead and was in front for most of the opening lap. But the rear-drive BMW is notorious for taking a while to get heat into its front tyres, a fact that Ford Focus driver Sutton was keen to exploit.
This he did with an outrageous pass around the outside of Hill through turn one that he made stick for the next few laps. Sutton suffered from his first bit of contact on lap five – Hill made contact under braking into the final corner – but it was a largely clean fight with Hill that intensified on lap eight, with the lead swapping twice on Knockhill’s tight Tarmac.
Hill eventually made his superior pace count, overtaking Sutton and pulling 3.6 seconds clear by the flag.
Sutton’s long-time rival Turkington then pressured the Ford man, who again suffered from contact, but he managed to hold on to keep second place.
As Sutton quipped afterwards: “I tell you what, I think I need to see a chiropractor after that one! We picked up a little bit of damage with the big contact from Jake into the last corner and then that was topped off by Colin [Turkington] as well. I gave it my best and took it to him at the start. Ultimately, did we have enough to put it up there at the end, probably not. Jake [Hill] looked strong, he looked strong in qualifying. I accepted my battle with that one and focussed on Colin.”
Sutton secures first win of season
Ahead of the 2022 BTCC season, a lot of speculation centred around triple champion Sutton and whether he could make a success of switching from the rear-drive Infiniti Q50 to the front-wheel drive Focus.
Fans needn’t have worried, as the NAPA Racing man gave his team its first win in the BTCC and also his first of the season. It was again a Hill vs Sutton battle, but this time a mistake from Hill at the chicane handed Sutton all the chance he needed.
But unlike in the first round, Sutton couldn’t pull away from the chasing pack. Hill made a further mistake and slipped to third behind Turkington, before the West Surrey Racing driver tidied things up in the latter stages of the race.