Four drivers arrived at Silverstone for the penultimate round of the season with a realistic chance of being crowned 2022 drivers’ champion. Colin Turkington started the weekend with a slender six-point lead from reigning double champion Ash Sutton, with Tom Ingram and Jake Hill 18 and 23 points behind respectively.
Qualifying – Rory Butcher, Jake Hill, Adam Morgan, Tom Ingram, Dan Cammish, Ricky Collard
Of the championship contenders, it was Hill who had the best Saturday, qualifying alongside pole sitter Rory Butcher, who claimed his second successive pole at the circuit. Ingram qualified on the second row behind Adam Morgan, with Sutton 7th and Turkington 10th.
Race One, 6.5/10 – Rory Butcher, Jake Hill, Adam Morgan
- In a hectic opening to the race, Butcher got away well as drama ensued behind him. Morgan tried to take 2nd from Hill, but his positioning allowed Ingram to move up to 3rd. At the end of the second lap, Ingram touched Hill, with the front of the pack all over the road and while Ricky Collard was momentarily 3rd, he soon went down the pack, as did Ingram to 7th.
- In a potentially huge championship moment, Turkington was spun off the track following contact from Josh Cook on lap 3 and he re-joined in 27th. However, worse was to follow a few laps later for Turkington, as following more bunching in the pack, he was forced to pit with damage and was not classified in the final result.
- Gordon Shedden had moved his way forward and was 4th after a neat move on Dan Cammish, which was something Ingram repeated a lap later.
- Following a collision between Sam Osborne and Ash Hand, the latter was beached in the gravel resulting in a short safety car period.
- The race fizzled out after the re-start, despite Hill pressurising Butcher, who had previously looked incredibly comfortable, with Morgan a little further back. Although Ingram pressurised Shedden, the positions remained the same.
Race Two, 7.5/10 – Jake Hill, Rory Butcher, Gordon Shedden
- Hill was slow off the line, allowing Morgan momentarily take 2nd before Shedden claimed it. There was also a good start from Sutton as he moved up to 4th, while Butcher retained the lead.
- As the race settled down, Ingram overtook Morgan for 5th, while Hill reclaimed 2nd before the first safety car period of the race to rescue Dexter Patterson’s car from the gravel.
- Despite Hill initially having to defend from Shedden on the re-start, he was soon on Butcher’s tail and after taking a tighter line at the end of the lap, he was able to get on the inside of Butcher for the race lead and he sped off into the distance.
- Behind him, Sutton, Ingram and Morgan were battling hard for 4th, 5th and 6th, but following a dramatic fire for Collard, another safety car interlude was needed.
- Butcher was sleeping when Hill re-started the race, which gave him a sizeable advantage for the remaining few laps. Despite the remainder of the top six battling for position, they stayed in place. After starting 27th, Turkington managed to battle forward to finish 13th.
Race Three, 6/10 – Tom Ingram, Ash Sutton, Rory Butcher
- Alan Gow picked out ball 8 to promote Cook to pole, with Cammish lining up alongside him, followed by Morgan and Ingram on the row behind. Cook tapped into Cammish as he moved across on the line from the lead and seconds later, Cook and Morgan collided and ran wide, allowing Ingram and Sutton a clear run down the Wellington Straight in 1st and 2nd.
- Butcher was soon on Sutton’s tail, as the top three starters were all down three places each. However, places 7-14 were all incredibly close, before another appearance of the safety car on the day, this time to rescue Hand and Collard who had collided avoiding a turned around Morgan.
- Within a lap of the safety car returning to the pits, it was straight back out again, this time to allow Nic Hamilton’s car to be recovered after it stopped at the side of the track.
- When racing re-started, Hill began a charge forward as firstly he overtook Tom Chilton and then Cook, before a few laps later he made light work of overtaking Cammish to finish in 4th.
- Butcher closed in on Sutton towards the end of the race, but to no avail, as Ingram won the race with relative comfort.
It was a disastrous weekend for Turkington, who only managed to add seven points to his total at Silverstone with points for 12th and 13th place finishes. A lack of hybrid on such a short lap hampered his qualifying, but 10th wasn’t the worst that it could have been. However, the dangers of being in the mid-pack during the opening race were fully realised as the damage ruined his weekend, and ultimately, his title challenge.
Turkington now sits 27 points behind new championship leader, Sutton. Barring a miracle, he won’t be crowned a five-time champion this season. However, Hill and Ingram are very much on Sutton’s tail and sit just five and seven points behind Sutton respectively. This is very much a three-way title fight, and it is very hard to call a favourite out of the three.
The weather conditions at Brands Hatch GP could have a huge impact on the final result. In the past, the BMWs, notably Turkington, have suffered in wet and mixed conditions on the final day and this could be a worry for Hill, should the conditions be unfavourable. However, his performance at Silverstone was outstanding with three top-four finishes, meaning he has only finished outside of the top five once in fifteen races – championship winning form.
Should the weather clouds come out to play, you would probably favour Ingram’s front wheel drive power as Sutton’s closest challenger. The nearly man for so many years, it would be hard to begrudge Ingram a first title. After winning three of the first eleven races, Ingram’s latest victory, some sixteen races later, couldn’t have come at a better time.
Can Sutton win three championships [hopefully not – Ed] in a row and his fourth overall? Yes, most definitely. Since the mid-season break, Sutton has charged forward with three victories and no finish lower than ninth. Crucially, his teammate, Cammish, has supported him in recent meetings, whereas Ingram’s teammates haven’t been able to offer such support. In a season where every point is golden, every ounce of help could be pivotal.
It is going to be an incredible viewing spectacle as we wait with bated breath to crown our 2022 champion.
Championship Standings after 27 races:
|1.||Ashley Sutton||345 points|