It’s the fastest circuit on the BTCC calendar. To win at Thruxton takes nerve, skill but above all a car so instinctively compliant that the driver knows that they can push to the limits of adhesion in order to harness the speed and direction change that will propel them forward to the podium. Here are twenty of our favourite shots from a weekend that might just turn the tables on the title race: –
Tom Ingram was in commanding form to give the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK squad its maiden win. A series of full of intent drives saw the new Corolla lead off the line in race 1 and withhold a bombardment of assaults from the Honda of Dan Cammish to promote the Speedworks man into P3 in the championship. The prospect of another strong outing at Silverstone this weekend might just see some turning in the table and the emergence of a new title favourite as the we draw ever closer to what will undoubtedly be a thrilling finale.
Dan Cammish had looked the man to beat all day Saturday, heading the times in both free practice sessions, then again in qualifying. But Ingram jumped him at the start of race 1 and despite throwing repeated assaults at the Toyota, could only manage to bring the Type R home twice in P2. He’s now 42 points adrift of Ash Sutton and 10 points shy of Ingram; if he doesn’t collect more than 50 points at Silverstone this weekend, he can forget any hopes of being in the title race come the season end.
Ash Sutton knew that this was going to be his toughest weekend of the year; not only does the the fast-flowing circuit suit the better sorted front wheel drive cars but a reduction in start-line boost meant that the potential for any off-the-grid heroics would be seriously limited. Nevertheless, three exceptional drives and solid points returns saw the Laser Tools man leapfrog Colin Turkington to hold P1 in the standings and the prospect of another wheel-to-wheel clash of champions as the two aces battle to show who truly is the best of this generation of touring car stars.
We all have bad days at the office. Colin Turkington arrived at Thruxton with what should have been a manageable margin over title-rival Ash Sutton, but for once, the combination of full success ballast, another reduction in boost and then a misfire was simply too much, even for the four-time champion. It’s a rare sight to see a BMW limping in to the pits and to do so in the first race of the weekend was enough to wipe-out any advantage.
It’s been a hugely frustrating year for Josh Cook but a lights-to-flag victory in Race 3 (pursued closely by teammate Tom Chilton) sent the BTC Racing squad back to Brackley with a just reward for all.
It was his first visit to the podium in 2020 and boy did he love it. I don’t know anyone who works harder in the BTCC than Honda’s leading man and to see him racing just as fast and as skillfully as he did 29 years ago is sheer joy.
There were also podium successes for Motorbase’s Rory Butcher, BTC Racing’s Tom Chilton and (in the Jack Sears Trophy), a much deserved win for Bobby Thompson.
Two drivers who deserved much more from the weekend were Carl Boardley and Senna Proctor. Boardley was needlessly crashed out of Race 1 by Andy Neate (who was later disqualified from the meeting) whilst Proctor did manage three points finishes, yet it was clear that for once the pace of the Hyundai was not able to match the effort of its pilot.
Two race winners making a one-off return to the BTCC were Rob Austin and Tom Onslow-Cole. Austin, the former Ginseng-swilling, shark-wrestling Italicus was in shining form in the Power Maxed Vauxhall, reminding all that very few can wow whilst racing as hard and as fast as this perennial fan favourite. Sadly, Tom Onslow-Cole found himself in a car unworthy of his talent.
In Porsche Carrera Cup, Harry King once again showed just what an exceptional talent he is, dominating every session and looking set to deliver another clean-sweep over a grid bursting with talent. Yet tragically, in both races, the Michelin slick tyres were simply not able to cope with the Porsche Junior’s pace. There’s no point in racing if you can’t race at full speed and Porsche need to address this. It’s only the abrasive surface at Thruxton that has this impact so if a car cannot race hard and fast for 25 minutes, then shorten the race so that true talent is allowed to shine.
Ross Wylie had battled King as the Team Parker man made his way through the pack and when a second puncture took the championship out of Race 2, Wylie was well placed to secure his first win of the year.
In British F4, James Hedley took three exceptional wins to prove what I’ve been saying all year – next to Harry King, he’s one of the brightest talents in the rising ranks of British motor sport. Whilst with every race, his JHR teammate, Abbi Pulling ,looks more and more likely to take over Jamie Chadwick’s mantle as our first fast lady, seen here holding-off the challenges of Casper Stevenson and Alex Connor to race to P2, her best result yet.
Two more young drivers looking to turn potential into careers are Tom Lebbon (Ginetta Junior) and Ben Kasperczak (Mini Challenge).
Achieving Pole Position at Thruxton requires an extraordinary effort and Ginetta Junior Scholarship winner Lebbon set about just that. He couldn’t convert it into a win but two podiums secured the points needed to take him into the championship lead.
Ben Kasperczak is a graduate of Ginetta’s junior series and took a surprising but clearly well thought out move into the 2nd-tier Quaife Mini Challenge Trophy for this year. A win and a second place at Thruxton, avoiding the seemingly endless carnage behind, puts the Herts teenager at the top of the standings and firmly in the mind teams and sponsors as the family start to think about plans for 2021.