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NAPA RACING BATTLES THE ELEMENTS AT SNETTERTON


28 May 2024

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NAPA Racing UK was left to battle the best of the British weather once again as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship and the Vertu MINI CHALLENGE headed for Snetterton for the latest rounds of the season.

The four-strong BTCC line-up headed into the third meeting of the season on a high after another strong showing at Brands Hatch had allowed Ash Sutton to hit the front in the Drivers’ championship and seen the Alliance Racing-run squad maintain its lead in the Teams’ standings.

PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING

The Snetterton weekend started off in positive fashion during free practice, where Dan Cammish was the quickest of the Ford Focus STs, going second fastest in both sessions with Sutton and Dan Rowbottom close behind.

The results from second practice saw all four cars drawn into Group 2 for the first stage of qualifying, where Sutton led the way from Cammish and Rowbottom set the fourth best time as the trio made it through to Q2, although Sam Osborne – fresh from an outing in the British Truck Racing Championship – dropped out at the first stage.

Q2 saw both Cammish and Sutton again progress as Rowbottom missed out by two-tenths of a second to finish tenth on the grid, with the final Quick Six shootout seeing Sutton overcome his lack of hybrid to take second place on the grid, with Cammish securing fourth with his only timed lap.

RACES 1, 2 AND 3

Sutton, Cammish and Rowbottom all elected to run the soft tyre in race one with Sam choosing the medium, and a positive start to the day saw Sutton and Cammish cross the line in third and fourth.

Sutton had held second early on before being overhauled by Bobby Thompson but still retained his 100 per cent podium record, with Cammish battling his way ahead of Adam Morgan mid-way through the race to follow him home.

Rowbottom had found himself shuffled back to 13th on the opening lap but showed strong pace to recover back through to tenth at the finish, with Osborne just missing the points in 16th.

Rain delayed the start of race two but with circuit conditions changing quickly, both Sutton and Rowbottom gambled on a switch to slick tyres after the green flag lap in the hope that the circuit would dry out.

The wet-shod cars had the advantage early on as Cammish found himself running in third spot, with Osborne rocketing up into the top ten on the opening lap. Sutton and Rowbottom meanwhile would be further down the order but hopeful of progressing forwards as conditions improved.

Further rain however meant the gamble on slicks had been the wrong call, with Rowbottom electing to pit a second time as he ended up back in 17th and Sutton back in 20th after a rare off track excursion heading on the Bentley straight.

It left Cammish to fly the NAPA Racing flag as he took advantage of a mistake from Andrew Watson to move into second spot and grab his first podium finish of the season, with Osborne scoring ninth place for his best result of the year to date.

The final race of the weekend saw the quartet back on dry tyres on what was a damp but drying track, with Ash producing a storming drive through the pack from the back of the pack on the medium tyres to race his way through to fifth spot despite having to deal with fumes entering the cockpit of his car after early contact damaged the exhaust on his car.

Forced to run the least favourable hard tyre, Cammish slipped back from eighth on the reverse grid to end up in 13th place for a third points finish of the weekend, although Rowbottom’s hopes of joining Sutton in racing through the field were ended when unfortunate contact resulted in a puncture that saw him forced into a pitstop and left him outside the points.

Osborne meanwhile started from the reverse grid pole but a lurid slide on soft tyres at turn one saw him spin onto the grass and drop to the back of the field. Despite that, he recovered through to 14th by the finish to pick up a handful of points.

standings

The weekend ends with Sutton ten points clear in the Drivers’ standings and with NAPA Racing UK 21 points ahead in the Teams’ Championship. The Alliance Racing-run squad also heads BMW in the Manufacturers’/Constructors’ title race, whilst Osborne lies third in the Jack Sears Trophy.

mini challenge jcw

The three Vertu MINI CHALLENGE drivers faced a busy weekend with a fourth race added to the schedule to replace the one lost to poor weather conditions during the opening round of the campaign at Donington Park.

Heading into the weekend sitting second in the standings, Lewis Selby found himself in the wars in the opening race when he suffered a trip off track on tricky wet conditions and was forced to make an unscheduled pitstop that dropped him down to 16th in the end results.

Battling for the podium positions for most of race two, Selby end up classified in eighth place after a chaotic final lap before the third race of the weekend saw him unfortunately forced to bring the car in to retire with a driveshaft issue. A gamble on slick tyres in the final race ultimately came to nothing, with a spin off track on the third lap forcing him into retirement.

Jamie Osborne’s weekend kicked off with a fine podium finish in the rescheduled Donington Park race, setting the fastest laps in the damp conditions to match his best result of the season to date.

Osborne just missed out on the podium finish in the second race of the weekend in fourth spot before repeating the feat in race three – with fifth in the fourth and final encounter completing a solid showing that moves him up to third in the standings, one spot ahead of Selby. Selby also retains a comfortable lead in the Directors Cup.

mini challenge jcw sport

Cameron Richardson’s JCW Sport weekend saw him take second in class in the rescheduled Donington encounter before he overcame an intermittent power issue at the start of race two to recover through to third place.

Fourth place in race three after a late battle with Ben Crossley for the final podium position was followed by a battling third place in the finale that leaves Cam second in the standings at the end of the weekend.

NEXT STOP

Whilst the BTCC quartet return to action at Thruxton in a fortnight, the three MINI CHALLENGE drivers will be out next at Oulton Park in late June.

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