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Alliance further develops Focus for Sutton record-breaking BTCC bid

Reigning British Touring Car champion team Alliance Racing says it has improved its car further as it confirms the retention of its four drivers from 2023 for this season.

Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

Four-time title winner Ash Sutton will once more be joined at the Ford Focus ST-equipped squad, which has moved into new premises in Northampton, by race winners Dan Cammish and Dan Rowbottom, plus Sam Osborne.

The announcement comes days after Excelr8 Motorsport revealed that it has retained 2022 title winner Tom Ingram and veteran Tom Chilton alongside impressive 2023 rookie Ronan Pearson and one yet-to-be-confirmed driver for its four-car squad of Hyundai i30 Ns.

Sutton scored a season-record-equalling 12 victories as he stormed to the 2023 crown, with Cammish claiming three wins and Rowbottom one to give the team 16 triumphs out of 30 races; between them, these three drivers also claimed all but one of the 10 pole positions.

Key to this form was the development work done on the Focus over the 2022-23 winter led by Sutton’s long-time engineer Antonio Carrozza.

“The approach this winter is similar to the last,” Alliance team manager Oly Collins told Autosport. “We did a lot of work last year to the Focus.

“That’s less of a fear this year, but we haven’t eased up and we’ve still got some weaknesses we’ve identified from last year, and everyone’s working hard behind the scenes to make it even faster.

Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“We know that Excelr8, West Surrey and Speedworks will be working hard on the Hyundai, BMW and Toyota, and the target is on our backs, that’s for sure.

“We’ve done work on aero, engine installation, weight distribution. Tony [Carrozza]’s led that again, and the details have been improved another few per cent – we haven’t backed off.”

Collins added that Sutton, who last year completed his mission to become the first driver to win the BTCC title in front and rear-wheel-drive machinery, is just as motivated as he seeks a record-breaking fifth crown.

“Absolutely, and we’ve got the beauty of some continuity,” confirmed Collins.

“We’re coming off the back of an extremely strong 2023 campaign, and to further give us hope for 2024 we’ve got the same four drivers, the same car, the same engineers, mainly the same crew, and we’ve moved into some fantastic new premises.

“All of the drivers are as hungry as ever – we’ve got three drivers who want to get close to Ash, and we’ve got Ash who wants to continue breaking records.”

Sutton, who joined the team then known as Motorbase Performance for the 2022 season, said: “After an incredible two years with the team already and the latter being a record-breaking year claiming my fourth title, this now means I am fully focused to go after more.

Dan Cammish, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Dan Cammish, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

“Let’s get 2024 under way, the car finished in a good place, but that doesn’t mean it’s been left there. More development has been going on back at HQ and I can’t wait to get back in the hot seat.”

A rule tweak that arose out of a BTCC teams’ meeting means that Osborne remains eligible for the Jack Sears Trophy sub-division, open to those who have never claimed an overall BTCC podium.

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Osborne was classified third in one race at the rain-affected Donington Park opener last year, but that was only after Pearson, who had initially got to stand on the podium on his debut BTCC weekend, was excluded from third place due to a ride-height infringement.

Ironically, Pearson also remains eligible for the JST, so of those drivers confirmed so far for the 2024 grid it looks set to be a fight between him, Osborne and Mikey Doble, who remains with the Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall squad with which, at Silverstone, he became the only driver to prevent an Alliance clean sweep of pole positions.

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