Silverstone played host to the penultimate rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship last weekend and the MG Racing RCiB Insurance squad were on great form after Ash Sutton secured pole position on Saturday afternoon, the second of his BTCC career during his maiden season.
Ash topped the leader board for most of the session setting the pace for the 31 cars out on track with the top 22 cars separated by less than a second as the checkered flag fell. Josh Cook was also on top form after setting the third quickest time which would see him line up just behind his team mate on the gird for the first of Sunday’s three races.
Both Ash and Josh lost a place off the line with Tom Ingram getting the better start resulting in Ash dropping back into 2nd and Josh being demoted to 4th with Andrew Jordan’s Ford Focus being ahead of him by the time they reached Copse corner, but by the end of lap 3 Ash was closing on Ingram with a gap of just half a second between them.
Josh meanwhile set the fastest lap and was all over the back of Jordan fighting for the 3rd place spot. Josh made a move on Jordan on lap 4 but the two cars made contact with Josh being sent sideways, however he managed to gain control of his MG albeit back in 4th. Josh eventually made the move stick on the inside at Beckets, as Ash crawled all over the back of Ingram’s Toyota. A superb move on the final corner of lap 7 placed Ash back in the lead as the two ran side by side on the pit straight. With Ash now opening a gap up front, Josh fought hard to also pass Ingram, a move that he finally made stick. As the MG duo led the pack for a 1-2 finish, Josh was clearly the quicker of the two MG6’s and swiftly closed the gap on Ash upfront and then looked up the inside on several occasions to make a move. Ash was the first to cross the line at the end of the race with Josh finishing just behind him in 2nd.
After initially celebrating a historic MG 1-2 in the opener, there was devastation for the team as both drivers were disqualified for a technical infringement on the rear wing alignment, following the podium presentation. Tom Ingram was therefore handed the victory in the Speedworks Toyota after being promoted from 3rd to 1st.
The rules state that if you are excluded from the race results you will still be forced to carry the success ballast you would’ve been handed prior to the exclusion leaving Ash and Josh with 75 and 66kgs respectively and now both at the rear of the grid. Triple Eight Racing have appealed the exclusion with the hearing date yet to be announced.
With the combination of both MG’s now on soft tyres and heavily laden with success ballast, it wasn’t looking good for a point scoring position as both drivers looked to get inside the top ten for that all important reverse grid race three.
Both MG’s made great starts with Ash up to 21st by the end of the opening lap with Josh in 26th as they did all they could to fight their way through the field. Josh eventually finished the race in 17th with Ash in 26th place after having to make a pit stop following a puncture.
For the third and final race of the day both Ash and Josh had great drives through the field, finishing in point scoring positions of 7th and 10th. Honda’s Gordon Shedden took the win.
There is just one event remaining this season with rounds 28, 29 and 30 of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship being held at the infamous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on the 1st and 2nd of October. Sam Tordoff is currently leading the standings from the Honda duo of Shedden and Matt Neal. Mathematically also in contention for the title is Rob Collard, Mat Jackson, Andrew Jordan, Colin Turkington and Jason Plato with just 57 points separating the top eight with a maximum of 67 points up for grabs in the final showdown. Ash remains at the top of the Jack Sears Trophy table which is handed to the highest placed driver in their maiden season.
Josh commented “My MG Racing RCiB Insurance MG6 was fast all weekend. The car felt really good in qualifying despite the mixed conditions - we just left a little bit on the table and didn’t quite get the front row lockout, but, as we went on to demonstrate we knew the race pace was there. To come home with a one-two for the team and fastest lap showed what we are made of.
"Following the disappointment of the disqualification from Race one, it became damage limitation with 66kg of ballast and soft tyres from the back of the grid. I did all I could do - got my head down, attacked and got through the traffic. I was chuffed to end the weekend with a seventh, but it’s slightly hollow because we could have had a lot more from the weekend.”
Ash commented “Silverstone was a very positive weekend for me. We managed to top nearly every session on track with outright pace! We have got back into the working window of the MG!
“Don't get me wrong the weekend could have gone better after the exclusion from race one because that put us on the back foot for the rest of the day. It is fair to say that Josh and I showed what we are here to do with our performance over both days.
“Race two I feel we were hard done by. I can take starting from the back as that's the rules but there is a reason why it is called success ballast. Having to carry that still in race two after not being successful made it ten times worse and then to add to that I unfortunately picked up a puncture.
“Race three I had a point to prove. Racing through from the back has always been a strong point for me so to go from 26th to 10th after picking up some steering damage mid race I am pleased with. Also getting the fastest lap showed that we were at no advantage in race one.
“In my eyes we were the car to beat at the weekend so I look forward to carrying on the momentum into the final round.”
Written by Maddy Turner
Photos by AMSoul-Images.com