NAPA Racing UK had mixed fortunes in the opening race of the 2023 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) season as Dan Cammish sealed the opening win at Donington Park but there was strife for his team-mate and championship favourite, Ash Sutton off the line.
Sutton, Colin Turkington and Josh Cook all were handicapped by different incidents with the former seeing Jake Hill go in between both Sutton and his team-mate and pole sitter, Dan Rowbottom and with slight contact as Sutton went across, he went off into the grass.
He went into the pit lane but it was terminal as water was pouring out of the engine and car and this allowed the Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport BMW to fire ahead of Cammish, Tom Ingram and Dan Rowbottom.
Turkington was another that was caught up in the initial melee and finished just outside the top 10. Cammish bided his time at the front with a front three developing and took his chance towards the end of the race surging side-by-side into the Craner Curves with Hill on Lap 19.
Hill remained behind with Ingram in his own battle as the story of qualifying became the story of the race with rookie, Andrew Watson on his very first BTCC outing making his way up to sixth then disposing of Ricky Collard and Dan Rowbottom to grab fourth and pushed the reigning champion towards the end.
Only running out of hybrid stopped a potential first podium for the CarStore Power Maxed Racing driver who has sent a statement that he will be one to watch in what is an ageing car in the Vauxhall Astra.
Rowbottom and Collard finished behind as Adam Morgan and George Gamble, with the latter valiantly surging from 17th to 8th with no hybrid used after a poor qualifying starting his first outing with Toyota Gazoo Racing UK well as Cook sat inside of the top ten after his early dramas.
Post race, Jake Hill was handed a four place grid penalty for the incident with Sutton and will now start Race Two from fifth place meaning the order is now Cammish, Ingram, Watson and Rowbottom.
2023 British Touring Car Championship – Race One – Donington Park
1. Dan Cammish, NAPA Racing UK, 21 laps
2. Jake Hill, Laser Tools Racing with MB Motorsport +2.114s
3. Tom Ingram , BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +2.207s
4. Andrew Watson, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +2.614s
5. Daniel Rowbottom, NAPA Racing UK +6.350s
6. Ricky Collard, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +9.057s
7. Adam Morgan, Team BMW +13.907s
8. George Gamble, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +14.057s
9. Josh Cook, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +14.283s
10. Árón Taylor-Smith, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +14.691s
11. Rory Butcher, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing UK +15.307s
12. Colin Turkington, Team BMW +15.997s
13. Aiden Moffat, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +17.774s
14. Dexter Patterson, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD +21.655s
15. Tom Chilton, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 +22.238s
16. Bobby Thompson, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils +23.285s
17. Sam Osborne, NAPA Racing UK +23.990s
18. Will Powell, One Motorsport with Starline Racing +24.523s
19. Daniel Lloyd, Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils + 24.823s
20. Mikey Doble, CarStore Power Maxed Racing +31.804s
21. Nic Hamilton, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +37.492s
22. Stephen Jelley, Team BMW +45.255s
23. Jack Butel, Go-Fix with Autoaid Breakdown +46.757s
24. Ronan Pearson, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 DNF
25. Nick Halstead, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 DNF
26. Ashley Sutton, NAPA Racing UK DNF
27. Jade Edwards, Re.Beverages and Bartercard with Team HARD DNS