Triple Eight Racing BTCC
The Battle Of Thruxton
 
 
The MG Racing RCIB Insurance team endured a thrilling weekend at Hampshire’s Thruxton Circuit this weekend (7-8 May), collecting further championship points in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC).

The MG squad delivered an impressive performance yet again, collecting another top five finish for each of the Triple Eight drivers at the fastest racetrack on the BTCC calendar.

Without a doubt Thruxton has always been the toughest circuit for the MG6’s but the dynamic duo of Josh Cook and Ash Sutton were determined to break the mould during Saturday’s qualifying session and set blistering lap times with Josh gaining a 4th place grid spot with a 1:16.577 and Ash impressing with 1:16.727 putting him alongside his team mate in 5th for the opening race of the weekend.

The start of race one saw the drivers charge off the start line in front of the huge crowd, with the first chicane bringing a battle up front which produced an opportunity for Josh to nip through into second position, with Ash going off into the tyre wall on lap two after contact with a fellow competitor, forcing him into the pits for some much needed repair work.

With the cars jostling for positions throughout the duration of the next 8 laps, Matt Neal endured a puncture on lap ten and attempted to pull into the pit lane at the start of the following lap when and unsighted Josh got collected which in turn caught up a number of other cars causing a five car pile up on the start finish straight bringing a red flag and early finish to the days opener.

With both M6s now heavily damaged the team had the enormous task of rebuilding the cars in time for race two in just over an hours time.  An army of Team BMR mechanics assembled into the MG Racing RCIB Insurance garage and set to work on both of the badly batter MG’s.  After a momentous effort by both teams the cars made the grid for the start of the second race.  Starting at the back of the grid both drivers drove a superb race battling their way through the field and making up places to finish in a very impressive 12th for Josh and 15th for Ash.

After the excitement of race two the MG pair had another excellent drive in the third and final race of the day showing the superb pace of the MG6s with Josh narrowly missing out on a podium position in 4th, just 0.198s off third place finisher Adam Morgan.  Both drivers scored valuable points for the team with Ash finishing just behind his team mate in 5th position.

MG Racing RCIB Insurance were awarded the Manufacturers trophy and are now 3rd in the Manufacturers standings, 4th in the HiQ Team standings and Ash remains at the top of the Jack Sears Trophy table for divers in their maiden season.

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship now has a short break before reconvening at Cheshire’s Oulton Park on 4/5 June for Rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the series.

Quotes from the MG Racing RCIB Insurance team post Thruxton:

Ian Harrison, Managing Director of Triple Eight Race Engineering Ltd:  “The first race at Thruxton can only be described as May Madness! The overwhelming majority of the grid left their brains behind at the start and drove like lunatics in a way that I can't remember at Thruxton in a long long time.  Our MG6's were fast, with a set up far better than the engineers managed last season, but the potential was never going to be realised after both cars ended up in the wall in race 1.  A monumental effort by the 888 and BMR crews will go down in BTCC folklore to get the 66 car on the grid, and both cars battled up the order culminating in a solid 4th and 5th in the final race.  We are looking forward to Oulton Park as we have good pace in the car, and racy drivers who are capable of passing more than one car to get to the front. We just need a bit of luck now.”

Josh Cook:  “First of all, I need to thank all of the MG 888 lads as well as Team BMR for getting my car fixed after the Race 1 crash.
 
“Thruxton has always been a bit of a struggle in the past for the MG6s, but I think this weekend we have shown the pace in the car.  Qualifying P4 and then being on for a Podium in Race 1 was a really positive note for us.  Sadly being collected by a slowing car put an end to that and we had to start at the back in Race 2.  Managing to get up to P12 in Race 2 put us in a strong position to continue our charge forward in Race 3 getting back up to P4, narrowly missing out on a Podium.   Overall I feel a bit gutted for the team, as we had outstanding pace in the car all weekend. There are many positives to take away from Thruxton including our ability to look after our tyres, our outright pace and the amount we have learnt about the car.  Bring on Oulton!”
 

Ash Sutton:  “Going into Thruxton knowing that this is meant to be one of the boggie tracks for the MG gave me a different mind-set. I saw this as a challenge to try and prove to everyone that we as a team can change that. Free Practice 1 was the first time I had ever driven Thruxton in my MG6 Touring Car, unfortunately we suffered a puncture due to curb strikes which was from my own doing as well as some fuel surge issues. Free Practice 2 we still struggled with the same issues from the previous practice session, this meant with the sessions combined together we only completed a handful of laps at nine tenths. 

“Heading into Qualifying I felt we were on the back foot a little, so I was very pleased with claiming yet another top five result. It's been great to not be outside of the top five so far. We didn't maximise the use of the curbs as we knew how critical the tyres were here and didn't want to damage them too much for the racing. 

“Race one didn't quite go to plan, we had an average start and I was pushing forward until a slight bit of rubbing at turn six meant we made contact with the barriers into turn seven. Unfortunately the car was beyond repair which meant we had to park it.

“After race one's drama it meant the day was going to be a lot harder than we hoped, starting from 27th on the grid my target was to get to 10th for the reverse grid. We looked like we was on route to achieving our target after getting up to 12th by lap eight until we got turned round into the complex and dropped back to 15th. The car felt on rails and I think we showed that the MG had pace at Thruxton.

“Race three was a good end to the day. It wasn't the best start and we lost out on a few places, but we soon clawed that back and found ourselves behind Josh. From then on it was the MG train as we both worked together to carve our way up the field to 4th and 5th.

“Overall it was a good weekend and we as a team showed that the car had pace at its 'boggie' track. With a little more luck I think we could have had some good results here at Thruxton.”

Written by Maddy Turner

Photo credits - AMSoul-Images.com