But if those issues forced Sutton to be rather reserved in the opener, he was back to his flamboyant best for race two, climbing through the pack from eighth on the grid to take a superb second BTCC win for the Infiniti.
While the track was still wet, it was nowhere near as bad as the first outing, which brought the rear-drive brigade back into play. Sutton used a superb launch to run fifth through Old Hall before pulling a fine move around the outside of Cascades to demote Hill from fourth. Sutton was flying from the off and soon closed up on Cammish and Turkington’s fight for second, passing Turkington when Cammish aggressively chopped across the BMW’s front on the run out of the Island Hairpin, forcing its driver to get out of the throttle. Sutton then passed Cammish into Lodge and set his sights on Butcher in the race lead.
It had been plain sailing for Butcher until that point, the battling behind allowing him a handy two-second advantage. But Sutton ate into it rapidly, lapping a full second faster at times, closing up to the Ford and then eventually hitting top spot when Butcher took a tight line into Old Hall and suffered a grassy exit as Sutton found far more grip around the outside.
“We were held back in race one due to various factors, but we could really show what we could do in that race and this car just feels fantastic,” said Sutton after securing the win. “I wanted to keep things tidy at the start and get the first few laps done as it’s so easy to make contact round here, but it all went my way and I could push from the start. The conditions definitely helped.”
The track had begun to dry toward the finish, meaning the front-wheel-drive cars began to suffer more front-tyre wear as the wet Goodyears began to overheat. While Butcher was a clear second and didn’t have to worry, Cammish had Turkington climbing all over him for third. The Honda man defended valiantly, but a wide moment at Island Hairpin opened the door for Turkington to dive inside and use the better traction of the BMW to draft into the final podium place.
Ingram improved to fifth, ahead of Oliphant, Hill, Chilton and Morgan. But once again things didn’t go to plan for poor Cook. Starting at the back and still carrying the full 60kg of ballast after his earlier disqualification, Cook drove a great race to climb as high as 13th – a place outside of the reversed grid draw for the finale – but contact between him and BTC team-mate Michael Crees as they went either side of Chris Smiley’s Hyundai into Hislops sent Cook spinning out.
Matt Neal earned the milestone of 700 BTCC races, and capped it with a fine recovery to 13th after being forced out of the first race due to a non-functioning rear rain light.
Sutton drew number 10 from the bag, placing Bobby Thompson’s Audi on pole for race three, with Morgan’s Mercedes alongside. With the track now fully dry, the balance had shifted back toward the rear-drive machines. Could anybody stop either a BMW or an Infiniti? Step forward Morgan, who put in a stellar defensive display to secure his first win of the year.
Morgan used a great launch to draft into the lead as Oliphant followed him through as the pole-man had a nightmare and was swamped by the pack. Turkington made it through to run third, with Sutton slotting in as a three-car rear-driven train formed behind Morgan.
The signs were ominous, but the Mercedes man held on valiantly. He defended so well that West Surrey Racing eventually made the call to Oliphant to move aside and let Turkington have a go at deposing him.
Oliphant moved across on lap seven, allowing Turkington through. As the race went on, and Morgan’s front tyres began to take more and more punishment, Turkington’s chances of grabbing the final win looked to increase by the lap. But then a reprieve arrived for Morgan in the form of a red flag stoppage after Stephen Jelley, Nicholas Hamilton and Brown all came to grief at Druids, forcing an early stoppage and the result to be declared.
“To get a win here is amazing, this is our local track and we have friends, family, sponsors, everyone here…” said an emotional Morgan. “It was a really tough race. It was hard keeping Tom behind and then Colin, too. I can’t say I was too sad to see the race end early!”
Turkington added: “It was a strange race, and we’d talked about making the switch between Tom and I before the race. He got the call and the plan was that if I couldn’t get past Adam I’d give second back to him, but I obviously never got the chance. I definitely owe him one now.”
Sutton capped his weekend with fourth to retain second in the championship, with Chilton in fifth ahead of Senna Proctor, Hill, Butcher, Smiley and Aiden Moffatt.
The most notable absences from the top 10 were the two works Team Dynamics Hondas. Neal was punted off early doors, while Cammish was elbowed wide twice on the opening tour, dropped well down the order and was forced to limp home in 15th with his Civic not looking all that well. It was another damaging weekend for last year’s championship runner-up, who has now dropped to fifth in the standings. And then there was poor old Ingram, who was set for another charge up the order only for a driveshaft to pop on the warm-up lap.
Turkington however, avoided all this chaos. Dancing around every potential banana skin possible – the sole mark on his weekend being a splashy slide in race one and a handy catch into Lodge in race two – to leave with a 19-point advantage over Sutton.
“I’m feeling really good,” he beamed afterwards. “Oulton has traditionally been kind to us, but we usually race here in blazing hot temperatures and it was definitely the other side of the coin for us this weekend. But the fact we came through it with so many points bodes really well.”
Just not for everybody else.