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Practice report
BTCC Oulton Park (Island Circuit)

BTCC Oulton Park: Rowbottom beats Ingram to top practice

A new engineer sparks boost in form for Ford racer in Oulton Park practice.

Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Dan Rowbottom snatched the fastest time away from Tom Ingram as the British Touring Car Championship prepared for battle for its latest round at Oulton Park.

The Midlander was on form in both sessions, whisking his NAPA Racing-liveried Alliance Ford Focus ST to second fastest time in FP1, and then edging out Ingram by 0.110 seconds with five minutes remaining in the lunchtime session.

It appears to put Rowbottom in a good position on a circuit where the hybrid reduction for the top seven runners in the championship is expected to have a bigger effect than at most other venues, owing to the characteristics of the Cheshire parkland venue.

He is down in 11th in the points, and as such is entitled to the full 15 seconds per lap of power boost for qualifying.

Rowbottom told Autosport that there has been a big impact with the arrival at the Alliance squad of veteran tin-top technician Paul Ridgway as his engineer.

“Obviously we’ve had a few changes on the operational side for this weekend and the car is feeling great,” he said. “We’ve got a few little issues but nothing we can’t sort out.”

Of Ridgway, whose most recent BTCC role was with the Speedworks Toyota squad until the end of the 2023 season, and who also works with the Lynk & Co operation in the TCR World Tour, Rowbottom added: “He’ll be with me for the rest of the season, and hopefully beyond that as long as he doesn’t think I’m a complete bell end!

“I’m feeling good. When you feel you’ve got the car, you just have the confidence to push.

Tom Ingram

Tom Ingram

Photo by: JEP

“Our season starts at round five – better late than never.”

Ingram, the 2022 champion, spent long periods at the top of both sessions in his Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai i30 N Fastback.

The soft Goodyear tyre is the standard rubber for this weekend, with the hard compound as the option, but competitors were allowed to use some carryover mediums from previous race weekends in free practice.

Ingram set a very early time in FP1 on mediums that remained fastest until it was eclipsed late on by Aron Taylor-Smith, Rowbottom and Ronan Pearson, all on softs.

Ingram’s first serious work on the soft came midway through FP2, and he went fastest by a clear half-second before the others caught up.

A last-lap improvement put Taylor-Smith back at the sharp end again in his Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall Astra, giving the cheerful Dubliner third place in FP2.

That continued his good progress from FP1, where he set two laps faster than the best achieved by anyone else, the quickest of which was 0.036s clear of second-placed Rowbottom.

Tom Chilton made it two Excelr8 Hyundais in the top four, while championship leader Ash Sutton was fifth in his Alliance Ford – a couple of his quick laps looked quite sketchy, and his theoretical best on fastest sector times would have put the four-time title winner on top of the times.

Yet another Alliance Ford, that of Dan Cammish, was sixth ahead of Adam Morgan in the best of the West Surrey Racing BMW 330e M Sports, and Mikey Doble in the second of the PMR Vauxhalls.

Pearson was one of the few not to improve in FP2, but his FP1 best put the Scot’s Excelr8 Hyundai ninth on overall times, ahead of Rob Huff in the best of the Speedworks-run Toyota Corollas.

The remaining BMWs of title contenders Jake Hill and Colin Turkington were outside the top 10 in the quicker FP2, although Hill was sixth on soft tyres in FP1.

With the qualifying groups decided by alternate positions from FP2, that puts Sutton and Turkington from the championship top five in the first batch, and Ingram, Cammish and Hill in the second.

BTCC Oulton Park - Practice results

Cla Driver # Car Laps Time Interval km/h
1 United Kingdom D. Rowbottom NAPA Racing UK 32 Ford Focus ST 17


2 United Kingdom T. Ingram Team Bristol Street Motors 80 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 20



0.110 94.672
3 Ireland A. Taylor-Smith Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing 40 Vauxhall Astra 17



0.015 94.655
4 United Kingdom T. Chilton Team Bristol Street Motors 3 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 16



0.049 94.600
5 United Kingdom A. Sutton NAPA Racing UK 1 Ford Focus ST 17



0.058 94.536
6 United Kingdom D. Cammish NAPA Racing UK 27 Ford Focus ST 17



0.227 94.283
7 United Kingdom A. Morgan Team BMW 33 BMW 330e M Sport 20



0.030 94.250
M. Doble Evans Halshaw Power Maxed Racing
88 Vauxhall Astra 17



0.092 94.148
9 United Kingdom R. Huff Toyota Gazoo Racing UK 12 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 18



0.040 94.104
10 United Kingdom A. Moffat LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ 16 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 18



0.007 94.096
11 United Kingdom A. Watson Toyota Gazoo Racing UK 11 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 18



0.137 93.945
12 United Kingdom J. Hill Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport 24 BMW 330e M Sport 17



0.293 93.623
R. Pearson Team Bristol Street Motors
14 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 14



0.030 93.591
D. De Duckhams Racing with Bartercard
18 Cupra León 18



0.090 93.492
15 United Kingdom C. Turkington Team BMW 20 BMW 330e M Sport 20



0.020 93.471
16 United Kingdom C. Smiley Restart Racing 222 Cupra León 17



0.061 93.404
17 United Kingdom S. Osborne NAPA Racing UK 77 Ford Focus ST 18



0.255 93.127
18 United Kingdom J. Cook LKQ Euro Car Parts with SYNETIQ 66 Toyota Corolla GR Sport 13



0.034 93.090
S. Sumpton Restart Racing
29 Cupra León 19



0.667 92.375
N. Halstead Team Bristol Street Motors
22 Hyundai i30 Fastback N Performance 19



0.054 92.317

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