Ash Sutton arrived at Brands Hatch with a slender five-point lead over Jake Hill, with Tom Ingram a further two points behind, as he looked to secure a third successive crown and fourth overall. Although highly unlikely after a disastrous weekend at Silverstone, Colin Turkington also had a mathematical chance of winning a fifth title, but he would need more than just miracles to secure it.
Qualifying – Tom Ingram, Rory Butcher, Ash Sutton, Dan Cammish, Jake Hill
It was a perfect Saturday for Ingram who claimed his second pole position of the season ahead of Rory Butcher. Sutton was at the sharp end of the grid too, with a second row start alongside teammate Dan Cammish. Hill was in the mix too in 5th, but Turkington started 10th after a continuation of his hybrid problems from Silverstone.
Race One, 6/10 – Tom Ingram, Rory Butcher, Jake Hill
- Ingram got away well, but Hill hit the back of Sutton’s car after getting a better start. After an initial good start, Cammish dropped down the pack, before a lengthy safety car period to recover a damaged Cupra of Aron Taylor-Smith.
- It was a superb re-start by Ingram on lap 6 as he left Butcher and Sutton for dust and following Josh Cook and Cammish battling, Turkington found a way through to 8th. However, an incident between Carl Boardley and Rick Parfitt resulted in yet another long safety car period at the end of the next racing lap.
- After another good Ingram re-start, Hill was incredibly close on Sutton, but momentarily lost out to Bobby Thompson, before regaining the position. After several laps of Sutton holding up a queue of cars, Hill, with the aid of a few bumps, finally managed to take 3rd.
- Sutton held on to 4th despite Turkington being on his tail for the final lap after the Northern Irishman had made his way through the field, which included a fantastic overtake around the outside of Adam Morgan. Ingram, however, never looked in danger of relinquishing the win.
Race Two, 6.5/10 – Tom Ingram, Jake Hill, Colin Turkington
- There was a relatively quiet opening to the race, despite Butcher immediately, but unsuccessfully, challenging for the lead as the top six remained in position.
- In the early parts, positions 8 to 14 were almost as one, but at the front, the top three had a decent gap to Sutton, who was defending from Turkington until lap 8, where he made the decisive move for 4th. At the same time, Butcher ran wide, allowing Hill up to 2nd.
- Hill soon caught Ingram and was right on his bumper, as Turkington was to Butcher. While Ingram drove the widest Hyundai available and held on to win, Butcher succumbed to Turkington. Ingram had saved some hybrid for the final laps and despite Hill’s best efforts, he just didn’t have enough to win.
- Meanwhile, Sutton had to defend from the Car Gods pair of Morgan and George Gamble at the end of the race as he just held on to 5th. It meant that Ingram went into the final race with a lead of 11 points to Hill and 14 to Sutton.
Race Three, 7/10 – Dan Lloyd, Josh Cook, Rory Butcher
- In what was most likely to be Jason’s Plato last BTCC race, he had the honour of drawing the reverse grid pole, where he picked out ball ten belonging to Dan Lloyd. He was joined by Thompson on the front row with Cammish and Cook behind.
- Lloyd had a great start as Thompson dropped down the pack. In the early bunching, Cammish was another loser, as Hill and Ingram were next to each other and both of them soon overtook Turkington, although the latter was lucky not to be collected by a spinning Dan Rowbottom.
- However, the safety car was required to recover Parfitt, again, after an incident on lap 2. During the calming period, Thompson also pulled over in a cloud of smoke.
- When racing re-started, Sutton moved up to 3rd with a move on Butcher, although that only lasted for a couple of laps, but Ingram was struggling behind Cammish and Hill was right on his bumper.
- Sutton was soon holding everyone up and in the resulting train, Morgan was turned around by Cammish, who in turn narrowly missed the passing Ingram, before Sutton once again was the cork in the bottle.
- Towards the end, Hill tried to overtake Sutton, but Ingram nipped in for 5th and Hill dropped down the pack, securing Ingram his first title.
- Throughout the race, Cook had kept Lloyd honest at the front, with the gap down to just 0.2s at points, but Lloyd held on to secure his third victory of the season. In a final moment of action for the season, Michael Crees’ Astra was seen upside down in the gravel, following contact with Jade Edwards.
A fantastic qualifying on Saturday set Ingram up for what turned out to be a brilliant Sunday. What a way to win your first title with a pole position, two wins and a fifth. After entering the series in 2014, Ingram has built for this moment and has narrowly missed out along the way too. However, he was easily the driver of the weekend and fully deserved his crown after such a performance.
Sutton’s small lead was soon wiped out by Ingram after the first race. Sutton looked incredibly slow in the opening race, later explained by a broken turbo, but how he managed to finish 4th with such a problem showed his great determination and skill. All weekend, Sutton’s all round package didn’t appear to be as good as it had been in previous rounds, yet he still managed three top-five finishes, which could easily have been enough to win a championship on another weekend.
Similarly, Hill secured a good haul of points with a double podium and a 7th, but Ingram’s ultimate dominance, meant it was always going to be a hard ask for Hill to secure a first title. Hill’s teammate Turkington must have wished the good weather had been around for the last couple of seasons where his title challenge has fallen at the last in mixed weather conditions. Despite Turkington’s decent weekend, his title challenge ended with his disastrous weekend at Silverstone.
Mentions must also go to Cook who secured the Independent Drivers’ trophy and Thompson who won the Jack Sears Trophy.
Brands Hatch really delivered on the final day and it was great to see the main contenders in the mix throughout. It has to be said though, that at the times throughout the season, the action hasn’t been the best and the new hybrid technology era is still a work in progress with further development needed. However, despite this, it’s been one of the best championship battles for years and we hope for more of the same next season. Roll on Donington Park at the end of April!
Final BTCC 2022 Championship Standings
|1.||Tom Ingram||394 points|