15 Oct Ashley Sutton closes out 2019 BTCC season with Brands Hatch victory
Ashley Sutton brought the curtain down on his 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign in style this past weekend (October 12/13), claiming victory around the Grand Prix layout of Brands Hatch.
In what has been a rollercoaster season for the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver, the 25-year-old entered the season finale with his sights set on a big result; and duly delivered in front of a bumper trackside crowd.
The 2017 champion excelled throughout practice and qualifying on Saturday, mastering the wet conditions in his rear-wheel-drive Levorg. Setting a best time of 1:41.068 for second on the grid, Sutton put himself in contention for a strong race day.
Launching into the lead from the outside of the front row, Sutton held the early advantage in race one before being shuffled back to second on the third lap. As the rain around the circuit began to intensify, the BRDC Superstar valiantly fought to stay amongst the front-runners.
With several drivers opting to pit for wet tyres, Sutton showcased his supreme car control to continue on the dry compound, although the conditions ultimately cost him in the end as he was relegated to 11th.
Sutton’s crowning glory came in the penultimate race of the season as he served up a virtuoso performance to clinch his and the teams’ first win of the year.
Starting on the sixth row of the grid, the former Jack Sears Trophy champion enjoyed a stellar opening lap, scything his way into third place come the end of the first tour.
Following a brief safety car period, Sutton was on the move once more and showcased his ruthless overtaking prowess to pass the Honda pairing of Matt Neal and Dan Cammish – taking the lead in the process.
From there, the GO Homes-backed driver was unchallenged as he powered into the distance to his 14th career win.
Starting tenth virtue of the reverse grid draw, Sutton rounded off his season with more silverware as he produced another storming drive to claim third place – despite being ladened with success ballast.
Working together with former team-mate Josh Cook, the Renault UK Clio Cup champion of 2015 worked his way into fourth – where he remained until the closing stages when he overhauled Cook for third; signing off the year in style.
Tallying six podium finishes in total, Sutton ends the year eighth in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst Adrian Flux Subaru Racing finished fourth and eighth in the BTCC Manufacturer/Constructors’ Championship and BTCC Teams’ Championship respectively.
Ashley Sutton: “It’s been a tough season so it is fantastic to round out the year with a win and some more silverware – the team have worked tirelessly throughout so it is a great reward for them all. I was going into it the finale wanting to win a race and that is what we achieved!
“We knew we would be strong after qualifying but the weather didn’t help us in race one, meaning we slipped down the order. In race two though the car was hooked up as soon as the lights went out; I was into third by lap one and then it was just about picking my moments to take the lead.
“Once I got out front it was relatively easy and I can dictate the pace, look after the tyres and bring it home. To finish third in the final race is the cherry on top and the perfect way to sign off 2019.
“It has been no secret that this year has been a tough one but we’ve kept pushing. It felt great to be in the fight on Sunday! It will be nice to relax for a little while, hit the reset button and then I’ll begin plotting for next year.”