Excellent point hauls for Laser Tools Racing and another well-deserved podium for Aiden Moffat
Back to Donington Park for the first time since the beginning of August last year. Because of this all of the previous circuit data was over 14 months old so the team were using the two “free-practice” sessions on Saturday morning as test sessions, and trying multiple set-ups around a track that has seen considerable changes since the last BTCC races there.
Qualifying — Saturday afternoon
Again, this was a two-part qualifying session with an initial session for everyone, followed by a shoot-out for the top 10 to decide pole position. In the first part of qualifying, Ash was on form, but Aiden and Carl were struggling for outright pace. At the end of the first part, Ash was in 4th, but neither Aiden nor Carl made the cut. Thus Aiden was to start Race 1 in 21st and Carl in 28th.
As we went into the top 10 shoot-out, it was Ash and Colin Turkington who were duelling it out at the front as the rear wheel drive cars showed how quickly they got up to pace. Ash is always penalised by the weight he has to carry as Championship leader on these occasions and once the front wheel drive cars got heat in their tyres they were soon heading up the leader board. By the end of the session Ash was in P9, three places behind his title rival Colin Turkington. If there was any good news, it was that championship contenders Tom Ingram and Jake Hill would start behind Ash on the grid for Race 1.
In the first part of the race Aiden very quickly was able to get forward a couple of places before there was the safety car was deployed after a big crash involving Adam Morgan. On the restart, it was all to play for as the safety car pulled in and both Ash and Aiden were making moves. Ash was able to get up to 8th and then up to 7th, before a long battle with Jason Plato who Ash wisely decided to stay behind rather than risk everything with only five races of the season left after this.
Aiden meanwhile was picking off the competition and finished a brilliant 13th — 7 places higher than his starting point. Carl meanwhile was still struggling and ended the race in 27th place. This put the team in a strong position for Race 2 with the possibility of progress for all three of our drivers.
Off the line, Aiden was yet again on a charge and was able to gain 1 place to take him up to 12th, a position he retained until he took 11th on lap 9. Moving into the top 10 a lap later, he was then able to move up to 8th on lap 13 where he finished the race.
Ash started in 7th spot on the grid before slipping to 8th on lap 3 and 10th on lap 5 as he fought to warm up the tyres. Ever the champion, he steadfastly picked off his opposition one by one and finished the race in 4th place!
Carl started in 27th but was up to 25th at the end of the first lap. He then took 24th on lap 12 before gaining another place and finishing 23rd, a gain of 4 places.
Then came the reverse grid, and yet again at the sharp end of the season the BMW of Colin Turkington gets pole for race 3, just as it was a few weeks’ earlier at Croft. So this reverse grid draw put Aiden in P3 at the start of the race, Ash 8th and Carl 23rd.
Starting from 3rd on the grid it wasn’t an easy ride for Aiden as he battled hard with those around him going back a couple of places before reclaiming 3rd after a stunning move where he took two cars in one fell swoop. Ash also had a tough time of things before finishing a well-deserved 8th after a long battle with Tom Ingram, gaining valuable points in the process. Carl also gained impressive places being up in 17th at the end, just outside the points.
Ash Sutton now holds the championship lead by 32 points from Colin Turkington, with Tom Ingram 6 points further back in 3rd. In the BTCC Teams Championship Laser Tools Racing now hold a 77 point lead over BTC racing. In the Independent Teams championship, Laser Tools Racing is 43 points ahead of Ginsters EXCELER8.
There is just one round and three races left and the championship deciders are not far off now. So let’s see what we can do! Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time!