BTCC, Brands Hatch Indy: Sutton’s Journey

BTCC, Brands Hatch Indy: Sutton’s Journey

After Dan Cammish at Donington, it’s the turn of three-time champion Ash Sutton in a Ford Focus to win two out of three races in the second meeting of the season at the Indy circuit at Brands Hatch, which gives the crowd a real spectacle.

The NAPA team’s Ford Focus is now the favorite for the championship. Race 1 was marked by a red flag caused by a pile-up at the end of the first lap.

The strategic aspect is reinforced by the return of the soft tires that must be used during one of the three races along with the intermediate rubbers. In qualifying, championship leader Dan Cammish (Ford) took a good position ahead of Colin Turkington (BMW), Jake Hill (BMW) and Ash Sutton (Ford). This is the second consecutive sorry for Ford from the NAPA team.

Race 1: Big crash on the first lap!

At the start, Turkington emerges into the lead in the first corner many times thanks to the speed of the BMW 3 Series and its soft tyres. Also starting on soft tyres, Cammish lost two places on the first lap, teammate Ash Sutton stealing second from him on the Cooper Straight.

At the end of the first round, a total pile-up took place in the pit right! Stephen Jelly (BMW) and Butel (Cupra) are close in the final corner and go a little wide on the entrance straight. Rowbottom (Ford) sees a rat hole and tries to get in but Jelly’s Ford and BMW collide. Jelly is sent into the inside wall, back onto the track and hits Rowbottom.

Behind Josh Cook (Honda), Adam Morgan (BMW) and Andrew Watson (Vauxhall) could not avoid the sinking cars in front of them while Nic Hamilton avoided carnage. Jelly’s BMW finds itself standing in the middle of the track, the others are in the sandbox. The track is completely blocked, the direction of the race raised a red flag.

Drivers play with toy cars in the sandbox! / © ITV4 screenshot

Given that there were less than two cycles covered during the first initiation, the second is considered null and void. We set off again for 18 laps in the same order as the start minus the five crash victims and Tom Chilton who had a technical problem before the formation lap.

Leaving is definitely not Dan Cammish’s feat. When the lights went out, he slipped a lot and it was not two places that he lost as at the beginning, but three in favor of Turkington, Hill and Sutton. Rory Butcher (Toyota) missed out on him in turn two too but Cammish defended his position well.

At the start of the second lap, Sutton attacked Hill in the first corner and passed the BMW. Cammish pulled away thanks to his soft tires and followed his teammate as his shadow also passed Hill for third place.

BTCC Brands Hatch 2023 Start race 1


Further down the peloton, lights and mirrors fly as Butel (Cupra), Osborne (Ford) and Pearson (Hyundai) battle it out for fifteenth place in true BTCC spirit! Fifth place was also hot for the defending champion Tom Ingram (Hyundai) who did not hesitate to hit Rory Butcher with his bumper.

He manages to pass him in the qualifying corner due to late braking which surprises Butcher in the first corner. Bobby Thompson (Cupra) will also surprise Butcher for sixth. In the lead, the rank will not change despite small gaps. Colin Turkington takes his 64th BTCC win ahead of Sutton, Cammish, Hill and Ingram.

BTCC Brands Hatch 2023 Race 1


Race 2: Sutton comfortable

The starting grid for the race is given based on the results of the first race. Note that all eleven are equipped with medium tires. At the start of the second race, this time it was Ash Sutton who beat Turkington while Cammish missed the start for the third time of the day and lost two places.

As for Tom Ingram, he was able to put himself in second place by passing Hill and Cammish at the start and then Turkington at Surtees corner with a very good overlap at the limit to put two wheels on the grass.

In tenth place, Osborne, Thompson, Chilton and Pearson collided happily. Persons didn’t even hesitate to give his teammate Chilton a hard hit with the bumper, even if it meant breaking the lights, pinning it to stay thirteenth against Dan Lloyd! BTCC is a real contact sport.

BTCC Brands Hatch Race 2 Race 2


On lap fifteen, switch to fourth as Jake Hill overtakes Cammish at Paddock Hill. Up front, the gap averages just 0’4 between Sutton and Ingram but the Hyundai driver won’t be able to keep up with the Ford NAPA.

Sutton wins his first race of the season ahead of Ingram, Turkington Hill and Cammish. In seventh place, it’s the same in the final corner as Collard defends his position poorly and is pushed by Osborne who takes him out. In his excellent Honda Civic, Josh Cook took the opportunity to pass the pair immediately to finish seventh. Gamble (Toyota) follows the Civic closely and also passes Collard and Osborne but at the line, the Focus sits ahead of the Toyota by a few thousand.

BTCC Brands Hatch 2023 Race 2


Race 3: Collard’s Disappointment

The coin tossed Bobby Thompson for the pole position. After finishing eleventh, it is therefore the first eleven of race 2 who see their positions changed on the grid. Behind Thompson, we find our fans at the end of the second race with Collard 2nd, Gamble 3rd, Osborne 4th and Cook 5th. Sutton starts 11th on the starting grid.

When the lights went out, Collard got off to a great start but Thompson fought tooth and nail to keep his lead. The two cars are side by side for half a lap but Thompson is forced to bow, Collard’s Corolla in front.

BTCC Brands Hatch Start Start Race 3 Race 3


Sutton got off to a great start going from eleventh to fourth in one lap! He then passed Butcher and Sutton in turns and found himself second after the sixth lap! For fourth place, we have a great battle between Toyota and Butcher and Gamble miraculously brushing up against each other. However, Jake Hill is alert behind the Toyota and managed to overtake them with two laps to go.

In the middle of the race, Ash Sutton caught Ricky Collard at the front and got stuck on the Toyota tails. A few drivers are struggling at this point such as Josh Cook going into the gravel at Turn 1, Gamble going too far on the second escape and Jelly having to retire, his BMW in a crab.

On the sixteenth lap, Butcher’s Corolla engine blew and Jake Hill spun out after the pit. All these events benefited Tom Ingram who passed fourth, Cammish fifth and Turkington sixth. Between Butcher’s engine failure and Gamble’s failure, Toyota lost a lot of points in a few laps, but fortunately Collard was in the lead… but not for long!

Sure enough, race direction will penalize Collard for ten seconds at the Track Limit! An unusual penalty in the BTCC especially at Brands Hatch! Despite Collard’s penalty, Sutton wants to win by finishing ahead of him at the line! The pass was brilliant on the final lap, Sutton didn’t hesitate to go over the grass to pass Collard on the pit straight but the Toyota driver regained his advantage in the second corner and kept it to the finish.

So it was Ash Sutton who won the third race of the meeting ahead of Bobby Thompson and Tom Ingram. Ricky Collard finished in eighth place at the end. His disappointment is huge as he is yet to win a BTCC race.

BTCC Brands Hatch 2023 Ash Sutton


Overall classification after 6 races:

BTCC Hatch 2023 Brands Total Ranking

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