BTCC 2023 signs off in style as Sutton makes history with fourth title12 October 2023
Following a thoroughly entertaining three races at Silverstone, in which title contenders Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram showed their mettle, the BTCC fraternity headed for the season finale at Brands Hatch’s GP Circuit.
With a 45-point lead in the standings, it was Sutton’s title to lose but the reigning champion wasn’t going down without a fight. If the Napa Racing UK driver was successful in his quest for a fourth BTCC championship, he’d join Colin Turkington and Andy Rouse as the joint-most successful drivers in the series’ 65-year history.
Wrapping it up in Race 1Starting from pole for the sixth time in 2023 – matching James Thompson’s 20-year record from 2003 – Sutton was in prime position to take his fourth BTCC title. The next step was to make it into Druids in the lead, and he did just that after fending off a challenge from Rory Butcher around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend. Having started from third on the grid, Ingram knew he had to make progress early and managed to snatch second on Lap 1, muscling the Toyota to the outside of Druids.
With the two title protagonists now in the top two spots, it was down to Ingram to force the issue, and a lunge up the inside of Surtees – albeit unsuccessful – showed he meant business. Unfortunately for Ingram, that would be the end of his challenge. Despite hanging on to the coattails of the Ford, as has been the case all season, Sutton’s pace was too strong to overcome. Further back, Bobby Thompson and Butcher duked it out for the final podium spot in a thrilling battle, one that eventually pushed the Toyota driver into a mistake at Sheene’s. In the end, Sutton crossed the line first ahead of Ingram and Thompson.
Sutton becomes BTCC great joining Rouse and Turkington on four titlesWith the pole position record already matched, Sutton added the ultimate accolade to his collection. His 11th race win was enough to claim a fourth BTCC title, elevating him to joint-most successful driver in the series alongside Rouse and Turkington. Not only that, but Sutton became the first driver in history to become champion in both rear-wheel and front-wheel drive machinery.
Another record in his sights With the championship done and dusted, the pressure was off, but Sutton had one record left to match in his all-conquering season. Race wins. Starting from the head of the field once again, Sutton launched into an early lead with Ingram in hot pursuit. In a relatively sedate race at the sharp end, Sutton and Ingram held position until the flag, as did Dan Cammish who snatched third from Thompson early on.
A 12th victory of the season saw Sutton match Alain Menu’s record for most wins in a season, one that has stood since 1997. Meanwhile, the closely fought year-long battle for the Jack Sears Trophy finally went the way of CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Andrew Watson.
Titanic tussle for the final win of the 2023 BTCC seasonThe 30th and final race of the season was a story of three drivers: Jake Hill, Josh Cook and Stephen Jelley. The latter, launched from pole into the lead and when Dan Rowbottom got a poor getaway, Hill and Cook went for the gap, slotting into second and third respectively. The trio traded places continuously, with Hill ultimately pulling off a sensational move, taking to the grass on the inside of Dingle Dell to overtake both of his competitors in one fell swoop. From then on, Hill wouldn’t be challenged and signed off a superb season by crossing the line first ahead of Cook and Jelley.