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Qualifying report

BTCC Snetterton: Sutton sets new qualifying lap record for stunning pole

Three-time champion Ash Sutton took a sensational pole position for the third round of the British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton in a dramatic qualifying session.

Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK Ford Focus ST

JEP / Motorsport Images

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After the second of two red-flag stoppages, Sutton slashed a huge chunk off his early ‘banker lap’ to beat the 2019 qualifying lap record held by Tom Ingram.

Sutton continued his massively spectacular progress – the Motorbase Performance Ford Focus ST wriggling around hugely underneath him – to snip off another tenth.

It left Sutton 0.342 seconds clear of the Excelr8 Motorsport Hyundai i30 N of reigning champion Tom Ingram.

Remarkably, it was Sutton’s first pole since the opening round of the 2021 season, and therefore his first with the NAPA-liveried Focus team, which has claimed all three poles this season with three different drivers – Dan Rowbottom, Dan Cammish and Sutton.

“It means a lot that one,” said Sutton. “I haven’t been on pole for a very very very long time.

“It’s been on the cards for the first two rounds, but at Donington we lost it to track limits, and at Brands Hatch we didn’t have a good tyre selection.

“I said to the boys and girls at the team, that’s the best touring car I’ve ever driven – the thing is on absolute rails and it allows me to do the Ash Sutton bit.

“There were a lot of lively moments, but everyone knows that’s how I drive!”

Tom Ingram, Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 N Fastback

Tom Ingram, Bristol Street Motors with EXCELR8 Hyundai i30 N Fastback

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

The first stoppage was caused by Nick Halstead’s Excelr8 Hyundai dropping oil on the track at Coram. This sent Colin Turkington and Dexter Patterson into the barriers, and Dan Lloyd, Rory Butcher and Adam Morgan all flew off the road too.

Remarkably, the damage to the West Surrey Racing-run BMW 330e M Sport of Turkington and Team Hard Cupra Leon of Patterson was light enough for both to continue after the red flag, and Turkington grabbed third on the grid.

The sister WSR BMW of Jake Hill pipped Turkington’s time late in the session, but this effort was deleted due to track limits and he was forced to rely on a time that was good enough for fourth on the grid.

The top four were all running with hybrid usage ‘success penalties’, with Sutton allowed just five seconds per lap at a minimum of 135km/h, Ingram 3s/135kmh, Turkington 7s/130km/h and Hill 9s/130km/h.

Top of those running at the 15s/115km/h maximum of hybrid was fifth-placed Ricky Collard, who bounced back from his Brands heartbreak in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Corolla.

Morgan made it three WSR BMWs in the top six, with Josh Cook seventh in his BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R, Rory Butcher eighth in his Speedworks Toyota, Rowbottom ninth and Stephen Jelley (WSR BMW) 10th.

Jelley was another to fall foul of track limits, and had set a laptime good enough for sixth.

The second stoppage was caused by a strange incident for championship leader Dan Cammish, who ran off the road at Hamilton in his Motorbase Ford and then clipped the barriers at Oggies.

Cammish, as a result, had his best laptime deleted for causing the red flag – this would have been good enough for 17th, but since it was his only flying lap he finished the session with no time and will start race one from 25th position.

BTCC Snetterton qualifying results

Cla Driver Time Gap
1 United Kingdom Ashley Sutton 1'54.526  
2 United Kingdom Tom Ingram 1'54.868 0.342
3 United Kingdom Colin Turkington 1'54.954 0.428
4 United Kingdom Jake Hill 1'55.053 0.527
5 United Kingdom Ricky Collard 1'55.322 0.796
6 United Kingdom Adam Morgan 1'55.438 0.912
7 United Kingdom Josh Cook 1'55.446 0.920
8 United Kingdom Rory Butcher 1'55.481 0.955
9 United Kingdom Daniel Rowbottom 1'55.518 0.992
10 United Kingdom Stephen Jelley 1'55.590 1.064
11 United Kingdom Tom Chilton 1'55.654 1.128
12 George Gamble 1'55.684 1.158
13 Ireland Aron Taylor-Smith 1'56.024 1.498
14 Ronan Pearson 1'56.092 1.566
15 United Kingdom Daniel Lloyd 1'56.141 1.615
16 Mikey Doble 1'56.167 1.641
17 United Kingdom Sam Osborne 1'56.422 1.896
18 Bobby Thompson 1'56.533 2.007
19 United Kingdom Andrew Watson 1'56.734 2.208
20 Dexter Patterson 1'56.903 2.377
21 Jack Butel 1'56.916 2.390
22 United Kingdom Aiden Moffat 1'56.963 2.437
23 Jade Edwards 1'58.173 3.647
24 Will Powell 1'59.752 5.226
25 United Kingdom Dan Cammish    
26 Nicolas Hamilton    
27 Nick Halstead    

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