2017 BTCC Snetterton Preview: Summer’s over, but will Sutton continue to shine?

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Credit: BTCC Media

The British Touring Car Championship returns from its summer break this weekend, as the thirty-plus-strong field heads to Snetterton for the sixth round of the championship.

Reigning champion Gordon Shedden comes back from his holidays leading the standings with 188 points, and the Halfords Yuasa Racing driver will be hoping to extend his eleven point lead over Team BMW’s Rob Collard. Shedden took victory in the third of last year’s Snetterton races, and will want to emulate that result in his continued pursuit of a third consecutive BTCC crown.

Collard begins his weekend in Norfolk just one point ahead of team-mate Colin Turkington, who picked up a victory in the second race of last month’s round at Croft. Both drivers have a strong points buffer over WSR stablemate Andrew Jordan, who occupies seventh in the standings; the Pirtek Racing man has needed time to adapt to the rear-wheel drive BMW 125i, and needs to get back on track if he’s to win his second title this year.

The man on form is undoubtedly Ash Sutton, who has admirably stepped up to lead the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing team in his second full BTCC season. Sutton was fastest in the mid-season Snetterton test at the beginning of July, after standing on the podium in all three races at Croft. The BMR-run Subaru Levorgs have gone less well in the hands of Jason Plato, James Cole and Josh Price, although two-time champion Plato has expressed willingness to help Sutton with his championship challenge this year.

Eurotech Racing’s Jack Goff produced the second fastest time overall in the Snetterton test three weeks ago just ahead of Tom Ingram, as the Speedworks Motorsport driver hopes to reignite his championship chances after a difficult pair of weekends before the summer break.

Following a large qualifying incident at Croft which involved a number of cars, there are a few driver changes across the BTCC grid. Eurotech owner-driver Jeff Smith is still injured, and will be replaced by his son Brett. Furthermore, the Shredded Wheat-backed Motorbase Performance team is expected to run just two cars for Mat Jackson and Martin Depper, as Luke Davenport continues his recovery from the injuries which put him in a medically-induced coma.

Aron Taylor-Smith, the third man forced to withdraw from Croft through injury, is expected to make a racing return with the Triple 8-run MG squad alongside Josh Cook, who replaced Dan Lloyd at the last round of the championship.

Although STCC racer Dennis Strandberg covered the Maximum Motorsport seat vacated by Cook last time out, team owner Stewart Lines makes his BTCC return at Snetterton after being ruled out at the start of the season following injuries from a bicycle accident.

Last year, the fans at Snetterton were spectators to a number of heavy incidents, with red flags punctuating both races two and three. In race two, a scuffle between Dan Welch and Ollie Jackson ignited a multi-car pileup after the first corner – producing a restart – before Jackson was involved once again in an incident with Mark Howard and Alex Martin which sent Hunter Abbott into a barrel roll off the line, before the former Power Maxed Racing driver hit a television gantry.

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