The second race meeting of September’s back-to-back weekends took place at Silverstone with championship leader, Ash Sutton, looking to extend his 29-point advantage. There was also a glimpse of the future as Andrew Jordan piloted the hybrid test Toyota car during the weekend’s sessions.
Qualifying – Rory Butcher, Tom Ingram, Aiden Moffat, Josh Cook, Dan Lloyd, Colin Turkington
There was a return to the Qualifying Showdown format at Silverstone as the top ten drivers from the initial qualifying session went again for pole position. Rory Butcher secured first, having topped every session during the day, with Tom Ingram joining him on the front row.
Aiden Moffat continued his fine from Croft to take third, followed by Josh Cook, an impressive fifth for Dan Lloyd and Colin Turkington, who arrived third in the championship. Jake Hill, Sutton’s nearest rival, could only manage 22nd as the impact of success ballast took hold.
Race One, 4/10 – Rory Butcher, Tom Ingram, Dan Lloyd
- Following an incident in a support race, Butcher had a large wet patch in front of his starting position and although he lost the lead off the line to Ingram, he only lost just the one place, while Lloyd made a good start to take third.
- It didn’t take long for Butcher to regain the lead with a great late lunge on lap 3 and although there was a question about yellow flags being waved, the pass stood.
- Despite having 75kgs of success ballast, Sutton set the fastest lap, and a new lap record, on lap 7 as he tried to make progress, but that stalled once he reached 7th, as he settled behind Turkington and Cook.
- At the halfway point, there was a good battle for second between Ingram, Lloyd and Moffat, as Butcher had made good his escape, but the positions didn’t change, while Hill finished down in 21st.
Race Two, 7/10 – Rory Butcher, Josh Cook*, Tom Ingram, Colin Turkington
- Butcher retained the lead off the line with Ingram also away well, with Lloyd slipping backwards, while Cook made it a close top three. However, there was soon a short safety car period to recover Nic Hamilton’s car.
- After the re-start, Ingram and Cook switched positions in a great section of racing, before swapping again to be as they were, but there was a real train of cars behind Ingram, before there was another safety car period to recover Jade Edwards’ Honda Civic.
- However, after this re-start, Cook did manage to get ahead, and stay ahead, of Ingram who was then really defending from Moffat, who in turn was soon defending from Turkington.
- Turkington shortly made his move on Moffat with a lovely pass on the outside line, as Cook was soon all over Butcher.
- A last lap late lunge from Cook saw him temporarily ahead of Butcher with the aid of the grass, but he couldn’t stop the car allowing Butcher to take the win. Post-race, Cook’s car failed the ride height test, quite possibly because of the late lunge over the grass, and he was excluded from the result meaning Ingram and Turkington completed the podium.
Race Three, 6.5/10 – Jake Hill, Dan Lloyd, Ashley Sutton
- It was a front row lockout by Power Maxed Racing following the reverse grid draw with Lloyd joined at the front by Jason Plato and while Lloyd fired off into the distance, Plato fell down the pack with Hill and Stephen Jelley moving up.
- On lap 4, a good move by Chris Smiley moved him up to third, while Hill was all over Lloyd, but the top two had a good buffer. Eventually, Hill’s pressure told as he took the lead on the inside line.
- Behind, Sutton was slowly working his way through the field before finishing on the final step of the podium.
- However, at the front, Lloyd hadn’t given up hope of victory as he kept Hill honest throughout, without ever really having a serious chance to re-take front spot.
- Further behind, some late moves in the race from Turkington moved him up to 8th, as he just about held on to being a championship contender, with Ingram 12th.
Similar to after the race meetings at Thruxton and Croft where Sutton had around a 30-point lead, the championship big picture didn’t change at Silverstone. Sutton has now extended his lead to 36 points and barring some sort of catastrophe, his name will be on the trophy once again. Race one summed up his approach for the last couple of race weekends and probably the future, as he was happy to sit in 7th securing solid points, whilst also showing his unbelievable pace by setting a Silverstone lap record with 75kgs on board. Sutton and his car are simply at one together.
The real fight in the championship is for the runners-up spot as it yoyos between Ingram, Hill and Turkington. Four points separate the trio and who finishes second is anyone’s guess as all three have had their moments this season. However, all three will be disappointed that Sutton is realistically out of reach, which also, as fans, we are as we’d love to see a proper championship battle for more than the first half of the season.
After a tricky weekend for Butcher at Croft, it was great to see him back on form and similarly, it was good to see Lloyd back scoring good points too. Whether that can continue for Lloyd in a car that has struggled for real top-end speed this season remains to be seen.
Finally, it was interesting to see Jordan running in the hybrid Toyota. While he was instructed to stay out of trouble, the series will have learnt a lot from running the car through a race weekend, rather than just through testing sessions. Most interestingly, the extra boost that can be delivered per lap will be an intriguing development. Although Jordan didn’t finish race three, the car appeared to deliver relatively competitive lap times, roughly around 0.7s per lap off the leader in the sessions. For now, that is certainly a workable gap and it will be great to see how it develops further.
With two rounds left, the series heads to Donington Park next, which seems odd being so late in the season, before the season finale at the traditional Brands Hatch GP circuit.
Championship Standings after 24 rounds:
|1.||Ashley Sutton||285 points|