It may be considered too early in the season to ponder but already many are asking, ‘Who can stop Napa Racing UK this season?’
The team’s early dominance this season was never more evident than last weekend at Thruxton for rounds 10, 11 & 12 of the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), where the yellow-and-blue took home victories in all three races.
One Motorsport with Starline Racing’s Josh Cook - known as the ‘King of Thruxton’ owing to his record-setting ten wins at the Hampshire circuit during his BTCC career so far - set expectations early by securing the fastest times in both FP1 and FP2, with Sutton placed only sixth in the second practice session on Saturday.
However, once the official qualifying session got underway that afternoon, it was business-as-usual for the three-time champion and current championship leader as he snatched pole position for Sunday’s opening race with a lap time of 1:15:489s.
With little challenge coming from Tom Ingram and Josh Cook in second and third respectively, and in a carbon copy of his performance at Snetterton a fortnight earlier, Ash Sutton comfortably led the way for rounds 10 and 11, securing not only his fifth and sixth wins of the season but also gaining the record of becoming the first-ever driver in BTCC history to pull off double-wins at three consecutive meetings.
Despite the reverse-grid draw sending the championship leader to a twelfth-place start for race three,, it appeared that the day was far from over for the Kent-based outfit as Sutton’s team-mate Dan Rowbottom sought to finish a difficult weekend on a high by being placed in second for the final race behind BMW’s Adam Morgan.
However, another obstacle soon emerged as Rowbottom was handed a three-place grid penalty for an earlier incident in race two, involving Exceler8’s Ronan Pearson. One thing was for sure – if this was going to be ‘Rowbo’s race, he was going to have to work for it.
And work he did, as by the fifth lap Rowbottom had made it past his nearest rivals and moved up to second place, with Morgan firmly in his sights. Before making it to Church on lap ten, Rowbottom had clinched the lead and defended it masterfully en route to securing his maiden victory for Napa Racing UK, cementing the Motorbase-led outfit’s clean sweep at the country’s fastest circuit.
With Ash Sutton now commanding a 14-point lead at the top of the championship ahead of defending champion Tom Ingram, and with team-mates Dan Cammish and Dan Rowbottom in fifth and sixth place respectively, attention now turns to Oulton Park on 17th and 18th June, to see what the other teams’ responses will be to Napa’s early title charge.
BTCC Journalist @ F1 Journal