The 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship arrived at Oulton Park in Cheshire for its “One Day Special” event in Cheshire for its fifth weekend of racing.
This event ran on the Saturday only due to noise restrictions, however it saw a new entry in Tim Docker. Docker was entered as the third Maximum Motorsport driver, piloting the ex-Motorbase Volkswagen Golf which he has also driven in Britcar competition this year.
A last minute change of driver saw reigning BTCC Champion Ash Sutton step in for Finlay Crocker, who was unable to compete at the Cheshire circuit due to business commitments.
It can be safely said that Sutton left his mark on the Championship…
The 2018 TCR UK Series Entry List For Oulton Park:
Super-sub Sutton secures Oulton Park pole on TCR UK debut
Verizon Connect Racing’s Ash Sutton secured pole position on his TCR UK début at Oulton Park with a supreme lap that was 0.567 seconds quicker than WestCoast Racing’s Dan Lloyd.
Having topped Friday’s second test session and then Saturday morning’s Free Practice session, Sutton marked himself as the man to beat around the Oulton Park International circuit.
The Honda Civic Type R driver went to the top of the times on his first full flying lap in the 30-minute qualifying session, posting a lap of 1 minute 42.348 seconds. That time put Sutton at the top by a comfortable margin over the TCR UK series points leader Lloyd, who left it until late in the session to secure a front-row grid position for the first race of the day, setting his best time with just two minutes to go.
Pyro Motorsport’s Ollie Taylor was third, just under eight tenths behind team-mate Sutton, having been set for a Pyro 1-2 until Lloyd’s Volkswagen separated the Hondas. Andreas Bäckman (WestCoast Racing) was fourth fastest in his Golf GTi, whilst DPE Motorsport’s Derek Palmer Jr secured a best qualifying result of the season in his Alfa Romeo Giulietta by going fifth.
Also taking a best qualifying result of the year was CUPRA driver Stewart Lines in sixth, ahead of the third WestCoast Racing Volkswagen of Jessica Bäckman in seventh. Lewis Kent was eighth quickest in his Hyundai, after his team had to work flat-out after the practice session to fix a problem with his front-left wheel hub, which saw him lose a wheel earlier in the day.
The second DPE Motorsport Alfa Romeo of Robert Gilmour and Maximum Motorsport’s second CUPRA of Carl Swift rounded off the top ten, whilst the Maximum Motorsport-run Volkswagen of Tim Docker completed the times in 11th.
Swift secured the pole position for race two, which is set by the reversed second fastest times of each driver, with Sutton alongside him.
Sutton sprints to victory in interrupted race one
Ash Sutton claimed his maiden win in the TCR UK series with a dominant display in a disrupted race one, with the Verizon Connect Racing driver winning by over 16 seconds from WestCoast Racing’s Dan Lloyd.
The first start saw Sutton hold on to his lead into Turn 1 as behind him Ollie Taylor slipped past Lloyd to claim second. However, after just one lap of racing, the red flags were brought out when Robert Gilmour and Carl Swift tangled at Island bend, making heavy contact with the barriers and causing extensive damage to both the Alfa Romeo and the CUPRA.
After a half-hour delay whilst the barriers were repaired, the race restarted as a 15-minute sprint to the flag. Sutton immediately got down to business, opening up a clear gap, whilst behind him Derek Palmer Jr moved into second at the first corner.
Palmer would then hold that position for the remainder of the race, despite pressure from firstly Taylor and latterly Lloyd. However, the Alfa Romeo driver would be demoted to fourth upon completion of the race, due to receiving a 5-second penalty for exceeding track limits.
That gave Lloyd second and allowed the Volkswagen driver to extend his championship lead, whilst his team-mate Andreas Bäckman completed the podium after Taylor was also given a 10-second penalty for being out of position on the starting grid.
Lewis Kent took fifth in his Hyundai, whilst Jessica Bäckman was sixth in her Volkswagen.
Stewart Lines followed up his best qualifying of the year with another points finish in seventh as the only CUPRA driver to finish, whilst Taylor was classified in eighth after his penalty was applied. TCR UK newcomer Tim Docker completed the classified finishers in ninth.
Sutton reigns supreme in action-packed Oulton Park Race Two
Ash Sutton continued his dominance of the TCR UK races at Oulton Park with a second successive lights-to-flag win in race two, as Ollie Taylor pipped Lewis Kent to second place on the last lap.
Sutton inherited pole position when reverse-grid pole-sitter Carl Swift was unable to take up his pole position after a shunt in race one. That gave Sutton a clear run down to the first corner on the opening lap, and the Honda Civic Type-R racer never looked back.
Second went to Taylor on the very last corner of the final lap, as several laps of sustained pressure on Kent finally paid dividends for the title challenger. Kent completed the podium in third, having run over the grass on the run up to the finish, to claim his second silverware of the season.
Lloyd took the chequered flag in fourth, although the championship leader received three points on his licence and a five-place grid penalty for his next race following contact with Stewart Lines on lap seven, whilst the duo were scrapping for what was then the final podium place.
Jessica Bäckman finished in fifth, whilst Lines took the finish in sixth after losing significant time in the contact with Lloyd at Cascades. The CUPRA driver was buoyed after posting the fastest lap of the race.
Tim Docker and Andreas Bäckman completed the top ten, the latter after having to pit to deal with gearbox issues.
Derek Palmer had been running in the final podium position, but the Alfa Romeo driver went off at Lodge Corner on lap six and retired from the race. Neither Carl Swift (Maximum Motorsport) nor Robert Gilmour (DPE Motorsport) took the start due to the damage their cars sustained in race one.
The 2018 TCR UK Touring Car Championship resumes for its penultimate weekend of action at Croft in Yorkshire on the 8th and 9th September.
The Guru’s Thoughts…
Oulton Park showed us one of several things: Ash Sutton left his mark on the Championship…
The reigning BTCC Champion filled in for Finlay Crocker in the Pyro Motorsports run Verizon Connect Racing Honda Civic TCR and promptly took the car to being Fastest in Practice, setting Pole Position in Qualifying and then romping home to take both of the race wins.
Championship leader Daniel Lloyd has some competition! Now just imagine how the series would have looked with just Croft and Donington Park left if Ash had also run a dual campaign over the season. That would have been an impressive fight!
What was also good to see were the CUPRA’s and the Alfa Romeo’s showing good pace with improved Qualifying and Race paces respectively. Maximum Motorsport have been threatening this form since Brands Hatch and I suspect they will be challenging for more podiums at Croft and Donington Park.
With Croft and Donington Park looming on the horizon, this also means that the first ever season of TCR UK is slowly winding down. However there are so many more stories to be told before the end of the final race at Donington Park in October. The series has done well so far and there is a lot of talk about a bigger entry for 2019 after seeing the racing and cars in action this year.
For me, its all about seeing if Ollie Taylor can catch Dan Lloyd. Retirements can happen and its been seen before where a massive championship lead advantage has been zeroed or lost. The final two weekends of the year will have four more exciting weekends with the chance that there could always another twist in the tale.
As per usual, I will be keeping things up to date on here with the blog as well as with the members of the The Official TCR Talk Group & The TCR UK Fans Group who will also be sharing their thoughts as well as any news from FIA WTCR, The TCR Europe Series, Domestic & Regional TCR Series and any news on the TCR UK Series which started this year.
All images are used courtesy of BRSCC / TCR UK Touring Car Series
Until next time, all the best!