Snetterton saw three different drivers from three different teams take to the top step of the podium as once again we were treated to a fascinating day of BTCC action. Tom Ingram took a brilliant lights to flag victory in race one after taking pole position in qualifying, before Colin Turkington made the best use of soft tyres and no ballast to win in race two. Then came race three, an action-packed affair which saw Rory Butcher prevail after an intense battle between Jason Plato and Ash Sutton saw the pair come together at the end of the Bentley Straight. As usual with the BTCC there’s so much to talk about. I’ve got it all covered in my Snetterton Weekend Wrap.
Turkington Extends His Lead In The Championship
Snetterton was always going to be a track where the WSR BMWs weren’t going to enjoy the same advantage as they had at Croft or Oulton Park, but Turkington still left Snetterton having extended his championship lead by 3 points, with the gap to Andrew Jordan now 36 points. 4th, 1st and 10th across the weekend’s three races were solid results for Turkington and the defending champion ensured that he stayed out of trouble and raced consistently to three points-scoring finishes. Lining up 5th on the grid while qualifying with maximum ballast in the car was a key factor in his strong weekend, and Turkington will be confident of another good weekend at Thruxton which is up next. He did exactly what he needed to do at Snetterton, and it was a big step to his fourth BTCC title.
Championship rival Jordan finished 5th, 3rd and 6th and whilst that trio of results are perfectly acceptable, they weren’t enough to make significant inroads in Turkington’s lead. I think Jordan’s best chance comes at Thruxton in just under two weeks. Always strong at the Hampshire circuit, Jordan won twice at Thruxton earlier in the year and it’s the round where he will have earmarked taking a significant bite out of Turkington’s advantage. If he repeats his double victory at the circuit then it’s game on for the final three rounds, but it’s going to become a lot more difficult if he’s outscored by Turkington again. This title race is by no means over, but Turkington remains a clear favourite out front at the moment for me.
Butcher Continues His A* Year
Rory Butcher took his second win of the 2019 season in race three, but it was the first time that he had crossed the line and took the checkered flag first. Butcher’s other race victory had come after Tom Chilton’s penalty for contact with Matt Neal at Brands Hatch Indy, but Sunday’s drive to victory was a superb one as he took advantage of a coming together with Plato and Sutton to win the race after starting 12th on the grid.
Whilst Butcher’s victory was fantastic, it was the culmination of a whole day of working towards a solid race three. The AmD Tuning driver finished 11th and 12th in races one and two as he made his way through the hard and medium tyre compounds. With the reverse grid race three and soft tyres on the car, Butcher was among the quickest in the field, beating the fast charging Josh Cook to the line by 1.4s.
The result leaves Butcher in a clear 3rd place in the championship on 177 points, 22 behind Andrew Jordan in 2nd and 11 ahead of Josh Cook in 4th. It’s turning out to be a fantastic year for Butcher and AmD Tuning in the Honda Civic, and I have no doubts that he’s going to be able to maintain this form through to the end of the season. Third place in the overall standings is 100% achievable for Butcher, and I wouldn’t rule 2nd out at the moment either.
Josh Cook’s Recovery Great, But Not Enough
So good in the first half of the year, qualifying has been Josh Cook’s Achilles heel of late and Snetterton was no exception. The BTC Racing driver qualified 19th on the grid in his Honda Civic FK8, further down than he needed to be to make progress on the WSR BMWs in the championship table. Whilst Cook did recover to score a 2nd place finish in race three on the soft tyres, he finished 20th and 15th in races one and two and has dropped to 4th place in the championship as a result, 11 points behind 3rd place Rory Butcher.
Recovery for a title challenge is going to be difficult for Cook, but with Thruxton, a track he has always gone well at up next an opportunity to score big points remains. Sitting on 166 points, Cook is now at the head of a trio of cars which includes himself, Dan Cammish on 165 points and Ash Sutton on 160 and I think we’re in for a close fight between the trio until the end of the year.
Action-Packed Race Three
The reverse grid race three goes down as one of my favourite touring car races of the year so far in any series. Butcher’s drive from 12th on the grid to 1st was a great feat in itself, but the brilliant battle at the front of the field between Jason Plato and Ash Sutton was enthralling for so many laps. Plato used all of his experience to keep the Subaru Levorg at bay through the corners where Sutton was so much quicker, however on the long Bentley Straight it was Plato’s Astra which had the advantage and it resulted in a fantastic battle.
Both drivers were chasing their first win of the season and for Plato, it would have been his first since Knockhill 2017. Whilst the battle eventually ended when the pair came together at Brundle, Plato would be hit with a 10-second penalty for contact with Sutton earlier on in the race, where he tapped the Subaru’s rear after Sutton had taken 1st. Whilst I loved the racing, I think the penalty was deserved. Plato was hit with a further second 5-second penalty for contact with Chris Smiley later in the race which dropped him to 17th in the overall classification whilst Sutton would finish 20th, his hopes of a second BTCC title nearly all but over.
So consistent in the first half of the season, Sutton and the Subaru Levorg seem to have fallen away slightly in the last couple of rounds. It’s amazing to think that the 2017 champion is still without a win in 2019 and I had personally picked Sutton as one of my favourites for victory at Snetterton. Like Cook, his weekend was undone from the outset by a poor qualifying which left him 18th on the grid, and he would finish 12th and 7th in races one and two before the incident filled race-three. He sits 6th in the standings, five points behind Cammish in 5th, and 16 ahead of Ingram in 7th.
What were your thoughts on the action at Snetterton? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook!