• Ash Sutton – 4x Drivers’ Champion
• 2x Teams’ Champions
• Jamie Osborne – Graduate Cup Champion
• Alliance Racing/Ford – Manufacturers’ Champion
A stunning season on track for NAPA Racing UK ended on the highest of highs after the team successfully wrapped up no fewer than three Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship titles on Finals Day at Brands Hatch.
Ash Sutton became only the third driver in series history to secure the Drivers’ Championship for a fourth time and the first driver to claim the title in both rear-wheel and front-drive machinery. Whilst the Alliance Racing-run team ended BMW’s seven-year stint on top of the Manufacturers’ / Constructors’ standings.
That marked the first time a Ford team had secured the title since 2000, with NAPA Racing UK also lifting the Teams’ Trophy for the second successive season.
Sutton went into the weekend with a 45-point lead over 2022 champion Tom Ingram and extended his lead at the top in Saturday’s qualifying session; making light of a lack of hybrid power to grab the bonus point on offer for pole position.
That was Sutton’s sixth pole of the year – equalling the modern-day record – and gave NAPA Racing UK a remarkable nine pole positions from ten sessions. It also confirmed Sutton as the winner of the Goodyear Wingfoot Award as top qualifier.
RACE 1, 2 AND 3
Aware that he only needed to finish ahead of Ingram in Race one to wrap up the title, Sutton held his lead at the start and was never at serious risk of being overhauled as he scored win number eleven of the season – securing an unassailable lead in the standings in the process.
Win number twelve – equalling the record set by Alain Menu in the Super Touring era of the 1990s – quickly followed in Race two as Sutton once again led from start-to-finish and despite being forced into an unscheduled pitstop in Race three to have debris removed from the front of his Ford Focus, rounded out his season with 13th place.
Ending the season on 446 points, 46 clear of Ingram, Sutton clinched another record by beating the previous best posted by Colin Turkington, whilst he set a new best for laps led having been out front for 174 laps across the campaign.
Alongside Sutton, there was a welcome return to form for Dan Cammish after a tough run of results had seen him fail to score in the previous six races. Cammish would pick up three top ten finishes, and made the most of running the soft compound tyre in Race two to make a return to the podium places for the first time since Croft; cementing his position in the top six in the championship standings in the process.
Three solid top-ten finishes for Daniel Rowbottom allowed him to wrap up seventh in the standings, although he was left to rue a bad start in the final race of the campaign when on the front row of the grid that saw him slip back down the order. Despite that, he scored his best result of the weekend in P5 to complete a hat-trick of top eight finishes.
A tricky finale for Sam Osborne saw his chances of securing the Jack Sears Trophy (JST) ended in the second race of the weekend when contact from the Cupra of James Gornall saw him go off heavily into the barriers at Paddock Hill Bend.
Fantastic work from the NAPA Racing UK squad enabled him to get back out for the final race, where he came from the rear of the field to cross the line in 17th place.
It means he ends the season fourth in the JST standings.
MINI CHALLENGE JCW
The focus for the final meeting of the Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE JCW season was firmly on the fight for the Graduate Cup, with Jamie Osborne taking a slender lead over rival Dominic Wheatley into the final weekend.
Osborne was left with work to do after qualifying behind his rival for the opening race but strong race pace enabled him to not only close onto the rear of Wheatley by the end of lap one, but then fight ahead to extend his advantage in the points.
His advantage was increased when Wheatley was forced to retire from Race two, meaning Jamie only needed to finish the final race of the season to secure the class title.
It looked like there could be late heartache when Osborne damaged the splitter on the car and was forced to pit by officials, but the team was able to patch up the #77 machine so he could return to the track – cruising round at the back of the field to secure the points needed to lift the Graduate Cup crown.
Team-mate Lewis Selby meanwhile ended his season with three solid points finishes, the highlight coming in Race three as he battled his way ahead of Simon Reed in the closing stages to score a third Directors Cup victory of the season.
That helped to cement second in the Directors Cup standings in his rookie season.
Porsche Carrera Cup GB
Fresh from victory at Silverstone, Gus Burton was keen to end his season in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB on a high and put his JTR-run car seventh on the grid in a tight qualifying session that saw the top 19 drivers covered by less than a second.
Jumping up into fourth at the start, Gus was one of a number of drivers to slide off on fluid dropped on the circuit on the second lap and dropped down the order before an unfortunate clash with Jake Giddings as he attempted to make his way back through the pack resulting in him being forced into retirement.
Forced to start back in P11 for Race two as a result, Burton fought his way through to take seventh overall – sixth in the Pro class – on the final lap.
It means Burton ends the year seventh in the points, a notable result considering that he only contested five of the eight meetings due to his commitments elsewhere.
2023 Season highlights
As the BTCC season draws to a close, it has been a record-breaking year for NAPA Racing UK. Some of the highlights include:
• 16 wins
• 32 podiums
• 9 out of 10 poles
• 14 fastest laps
• Ash broke the record for the number of laps led (174 across the season)