BTCC 2023 title contenders deliver the goods at Silverstone29 September 2023
The always unpredictable British Touring Car Championship arrived at Silverstone for the penultimate event of the 2023 season, and it didn’t disappoint. Title protagonists Jake Hill, Ash Sutton and Tom Ingram each took their turn in the spotlight, sharing podiums, exhilarating stopping overtakes and heart-warming celebrations.
Hill dominates Race 1 As is to be expected in the UK, moments before the first race of the day got underway, the heavens opened. That wasn’t the only surprise prior to the race start either, pole-sitter Mikey Doble continued for a second formation lap, leaving him to start from the back of the grid.
It was Jake Hill, then, who assumed the front-most grid slot and stormed into a lead he wouldn’t relinquish, having chosen the wet tyres – which proved to be the perfect strategy – and immediately opened a huge gap to 2022 Race 3 winner Tom Ingram on dries. Andrew Watson and Sam Osborne, also on wets, got past Ingram followed by Dan Rowbottom. In the end, it all boiled down to who had started on wet tyres, as the dry runners languished at the back of the pack. Hill led to the flag for a comfortable victory with Rowbottom second and Watson third.
Unstoppable Sutton, Ingram gives chase For the second race in succession, Hill got an excellent getaway and stormed into an early lead. Rowbottom didn’t fare quite as well, dropping behind Adam Morgan and Watson before Turn 1 at Copse. On the run down to Brooklands, Ingram and Jack Butel clashed sending the reigning champion wide. During the early exchanges, Aron Taylor-Smith made his way up to second whilst Rowbottom had a half-spin challenging Morgan for third.
Following a mid-race Safety Car, Hill’s BMW showed symptoms of an electrical misfire, and so he was denied a repeat of his Race 1 performance, dropping to 12th by the flag. Meanwhile, Sutton and Ingram were recovering from 23rd and 22nd on the grid respectively, after gambling on dry tyres in Race 1. In the closing stages, Sutton scythed past Bucher, Morgan and finally Taylor-Smith for the lead, whilst Ingram was unable to make it past the latter. Sutton completed a true champion's drive to win Race 2 ahead of Taylor-Smith and Ingram.
Champions on a charge Michael Crees lined up on pole for the third and final race of the day, but it was short-lived, as Ronan Pearson and Dan Rowbottom went up the inside and down the outside of Turn 1 respectively, snatching the top two spots for themselves with Colin Turkington following them through. As the field filed onto the Wellington Straight for the first time, Pearson led Rowbottom and the indomitable Turkington, but the Hyundai driver was on the edge, sliding his car through Luffield. Rowbottom spied an opening, and needed no further invitation, barging his way through and into the lead. It wouldn’t last long though, as Turkington bridged the gap in the following laps, eventually heading to the outside of Woodcote to take the lead for himself.
As was the case in the first race, Sutton and Ingram were masterfully carving their way through the pack and battled all the way to the sharp end of the pack. The day ended with three champions on the rostrum, in the shape of Turkington, Ingram then Sutton.
And then there were two; with BTCC heading to Brands Hatch for the season finale next, it seems the championship is Sutton’s to lose, as he holds a 45-point advantage over the reigning champion Ingram.