BTCC Snetterton Report
On the weekend the penultimate round of the 2020 BTCC championship was held at Snetterton in Norfolk. On the Saturday the BTCC tried a new format with only one practice session of 50 minutes followed by a two-part qualifying session which comprised a 25 minute first part followed by a “Top Ten Showdown” which saw the top ten cars shoot it out for pole in a brief 10 minute session.
The first 10 minutes of the 25 minute (first part) qualifying session was taken up with settings and with 12 minutes to go Aiden and Ash were out with a vengeance. At this point championship main rival Colin Turkington was fastest with a 1:57.648, the times reflecting the very cold track. With five minutes to go, Aiden was 13th and Ash was at the back after having a lap removed for track limits! Ash then put a lap in to go 9th closely followed by a great lap from Aiden to go 10th with three minutes left.
Then a real WOW moment with just two minutes to go as Aiden went 5th pushing Ash down to 10th! At the front it was Rory Butcher from Adam Morgan and Tom Ingram with Colin Turkington 4th. Ash was still hanging on in 10th but everyone was on their last lap. Ash sneaked up to 9th on his penultimate lap, then on his last lap Ash went 4th! Now onto the Top Ten Showdown.
As this new part of the qualifying session started, all ten cars were really struggling to get heat in their tyres but Tom Ingram set the fastest early time, while the rear wheel drive cars were still warming up. With three minutes to go, Oliphant and Turkington were the first of the rear wheel drives to set quick laps going 3rd and 4th respectively.
As the last minute ticked over the times were tumbling as Ash and Aiden were absolutely on it! Turkington’s last lap put him pole with Ash in P6 and Aiden P9. This year’s pole position was 1.9 seconds slower than last year due to the cold conditions as the Snetterton round is traditionally in mid-summer.
Off the line Ash and Aiden both got great starts, but Aiden was then caught up in a crash between Ollie Jackson and Tom Oliphant. Through no fault of his own it dropping him to 12th. At the end of the first lap, the front wheel drive cars were enjoying a slight advantage with Ash maintaining 6th after the early battles. A sensor on Aiden’s engine had been damaged during the earlier unwelcome contact leading to him dropping down the field and then having to pit.
In the garage, the team worked hard to get Aiden back out onto the track. He then finished Race 1 just one lap down. At the flag it was Turkington from Ingram, Hill, Butcher and then Ash in 5th.
The weather was bright and sunny, but it was still cold with track temperature still down at 10 degrees, not helping the rear wheeled drive cars. Off the line Ash was up to 4th by the first corner with Aiden up 6 places to 20th after a brilliant start.
At the start of lap 2, Colin was still leading and Ash was being held up by Rory Butcher, while title rival Dan Cammish was set the fastest lap behind him in 5th. Then on lap 5, Aiden headed into the pits with another problem that had stemmed from the original contact in Race 1.
Into lap 8, it was absolutely clear that Butcher was holding Ash up as he defended which was allowing Colin to escape. The problem for Ash was does he go for a lunge for 3rd, or accept the points for 4th. This is a really tough call with only a few laps to go, remembering what happened at Croft.
On lap 11 there was a safety car after a huge crash for Jack Goff and the race resumed with a 1 lap sprint and then Butcher ran heavily into the back of Tom Ingram causing damage to both cars giving Ash the chance to blast through to finish in 3rd place and a last chance grab of points. Due to the “reverse grid” rules, Ash starts the last race in 8th with Colin Turkington in 10th.
Ash started in 8th and Aiden away back in 26th position. As the cars lined up on the grid at 4.17pm, the sun was already setting and the track temperatures fell off a cliff. The lights went out and chaos broke out with five cars abreast at the first few curves and Cammish was the loser in a big crunch with Josh Cook on the first lap. Ash was up to 5th and Aiden up 7 places to 18th in just one lap!
On lap 3, Aiden was up now to 14th – that’s 11 places in 3 laps!
At the start of lap 7 Ash got up the inside of Smiley, but Smiley pushed into the side of him forcing him onto the grass and letting Colin through to 5th with Ash in 6th. Then at the last corner Tom Ingram took Rory Butcher for 3rd, but Butcher went across the grass and really nailed Ingram at full speed causing lots of damage. This allowed Colin to go through for 3rd and Ash in 4th. Aiden did a brilliant job and came home 10th having gained 16 places in the race. Unfortunately Aiden was bumped back to 11th post-race as he was deemed to have “bumped” someone on the way through, but what a fantastic Race 3 for Aiden.
As we head to Brands, Colin now has 309 points to Ash’s 300 and with Dan Cammish on 284 and Tom Ingram on 275. It’s set up for a memorable finish and we will have all the action for you on the 14th and 15th of November!