The BTCC Duel of Knockhill

Laser Tools Racing’s Ash Sutton produced two carbon copy performances to claim a win double in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill, as he fended off Team BMW’s Colin Turkington in the opening encounters.

It became a homeland hat-trick of sorts as Laser Tools Racing’s triumphs were followed by victory for Motorbase Performance’s Rory Butcher in the finale.

Sutton secured the first-ever pole position for the Infiniti Q50 on Saturday afternoon and then duly followed it up with a pair of lights-to-flag victories on Sunday, but both came under intense pressure from championship leader Turkington.

Turkington hounded Sutton in the opener after the former got the jump on front-row starter Jake Hill off the line.

The race bunched up when a safety car period was called for following a significant accident for BTC Racing’s Josh Cook at the chicane. Cook’s car wriggled through the notorious section of track, as he lost the rear-end of his Honda Civic Type R at high speed before crashing backwards into the barrier.

Turkington seemed to be the faster of the front two immediately after the restart, but realistically he was never close enough to make a significant move and the same could be said for the two pairs of challengers behind them.

MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Hill held off Tom Ingram’s Toyota Corolla to take his second rostrum in as many weekends, whilst Motorbase Performance’s Butcher maintained a similar advantage to the manufacturer-backed Honda of Dan Cammish.

Sutton then doubled up with a similar performance in the second bout as he duelled it out with Turkington again. Top two in the race and now firmly top two in the championship, the younger challenger began reducing the overall points deficit to the record-equalling four-time champion.

Yet again, Sutton had Turkington breathing down his neck for the full 27-lap duration – this time with the BMW 3 Series the lighter of the two machines – but was still able to keep the #1 car at bay.

Sutton perfectly positioned his car at every possible turn, leaving Turkington with little opportunity of grabbing another BTCC victory, and it was the Infiniti man scoring his fourth win of the season with another impressive defensive drive.

The rivalry is nicely bubbling between them but it’s clear that there is a huge amount of respect between the two champions.

Toyota Gazoo Racing UK with Ginsters’ Ingram was also involved in the scrap for victory during the first half of race two, before he had to turn his attentions to defending from Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Cammish.

Their battle ultimately allowed the lead duo to scamper away, but Ingram was still delighted with a hard-earned podium finish.

The reverse-grid contest belonged to Butcher as the Scotsman scored a brilliant home win, dominating the race after getting the jump by pole-sitter Senna Proctor.

The race was originally red flagged following a sizeable accident involving Ollie Jackson (Motorbase Performance), Mike Bushell (Power Maxed Car Care Racing) and Sam Osborne (MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square).

The rear-right wheel of Jackson’s Ford Focus was locked, which ultimately spun his #48 machine through the chicane and in front of the oncoming traffic. Bushell had nowhere to go – hitting Jackson’s Focus with some force – whilst Osborne side-swiped the Vauxhall Astra ahead of him while trying to take evasive action.

The unfortunate Bushell later confirmed that he had dislocated his shoulder as well as suffering ligament damage to his wrist, whilst all others involved emerged relatively unscathed.

Butcher – having originally blasted by Excelr8 Motorsport’s Proctor on the first getaway – had to do it all again on the restart, and that’s exactly what he did on the run down to turn one.

The 33-year-old never looked back and he pulled away to take a comfortable victory, albeit without a passionate home crowd present to add to his joy.

Proctor took a relatively lonely second ahead of a delighted Tom Chilton – the BTC Racing driver scoring the 101st podium of his racing career.

The contest concluded the run of four race weekends in just five weeks with the championship picture now beginning to take shape.

Turkington leads Sutton in the Drivers’ standings by ten points with Butcher 43 points off the championship summit.

Team BMW and the Bavarian marque dominates both the Teams’ and Manufacturers’ tables, whilst Sutton and Laser Tools Racing top both Independents’ orders.

Carl Boardley performed brilliantly at Knockhill, flying the Team HARD flag with two overall points finishes and the Jack Sears Trophy honours across the three races. The BMW 1 Series driver moves into second in the JST, 14 points behind Michael Crees.

Turkington is currently leading the Goodyear Wingfoot Award – based on qualifying results – from Butcher and Cammish.

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship now enjoys a three-week break before resuming at Thruxton in Hampshire on 19/20 September.