Ashley Sutton enjoys best-ever BTCC weekend at Brands Hatch

Ashley Sutton produced one of his best-ever performances in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this past weekend (May 6/7) as he charged to an impressive 62-point haul with two wins and a second place.

The NAPA Racing UK driver was in flawless form around the famous Indy circuit as his near-perfect showing vaulted him up to third in the overall standings, just ten points shy of the summit after two events.

Arriving at the Kent venue off the back of claiming a podium at the season-opener, the three-time champion featured towards the top of the times across Saturday’s two practice sessions as he dialled in his Ford Focus ST.

Despite rain and red flags affecting qualifying later that day, Ashley would comfortably progress into the Top Ten Showdown however a shift in the balance of his front-wheel-drive machine left him lacking pace, leaving him to settle for fourth on the grid for race one.

The 29-year-old began what would turn out to be a race day to remember on Sunday as he blasted his way to the second step on the podium in the opening contest.

Following a lengthy red flag stoppage for a multi-car incident at the end of the first lap, Ashley made a lightening start on the restart to jump team-mate Dan Cammish into third off the line before then clearing Jake Hill a lap later going into Paddock Hill Bend.

Once into second, the BRDC Member enjoyed a relatively untroubled run for the remainder of the 18-lap contest, shadowing leader Colin Turkington all the way to the chequered flag.

Ashley’s first win of the season came in relatively straightforward fashion in race two. Making a fine start, the multiple title winner slipped under Turkington on the run into Paddock Hill Bend on the opening tour before completing the move up at Druids.

Wasting no time in breaking clear from the chasing pack, Ashley then spent the remainder of the 24-lap contest maintaining the gap to Tom Ingram in second place as he cantered to a popular victory.

Starting the reverse grid encounter from 11th, Ashley brought the curtain down on the weekend in spectacular style as he scythed his way up the order and to once again stand on the top step of the podium.

Running on the soft option tyre, Ashley produced a sensational first lap to move up to fifth and he continued his charge over the next few laps as he made pass after pass – jumping into second by the end of lap four.

Closing onto the back of race leader Ricky Collard in no time at all, Ashley soon began hounding the back of the Toyota driver however with a handful of laps remaining, Collard was hit with a ten-second time penalty for exceeding track limits.

Despite not needing to risk anything, Ashley still attempted to make a move for the lead on-track – taking to the grass heading onto the start-finish straight at one point – but ultimately went on to cap off a memorable outing with yet more silverware.

Leaving Brands Hatch, Ashley has moved up to third in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst Motorbase and NAPA Racing UK lead both the Manufacturer-Constructors’ and Teams’ Championship’s.

Ashley Sutton: “What a weekend! I’ve had some really good weekend’s in the past but they’ve never been like this. To come away with 62 points, two wins and a second is fantastic and a real testament to the hard work that everyone at NAPA Racing UK has put in.

“We seemed to have a little balance shift in the car between Q1 and Q2 on Saturday which potentially cost us pole position but on race day the car was on absolute rails!

“To kick things off with a second in race one was mega. In race two I knew that I had to pounce early to get Colin and once I was out front it was just about managing the tyres and the gap to Tom behind.

“Obviously starting from outside the top ten in race three I didn’t think we’d have another win, maybe a top five. Knowing the performance of Sam [Osborne] on the soft tyre earlier on I had a bit of fire in my belly that we could do something special and we certainly did that.

“I think it’s clear to see that we’re dialled into this car and that we’ve left no stone unturned over the winter. Everything is in the absolute sweet spot at the moment and I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. I’m buzzing to get to Snetterton now!”

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship next heads to the longest circuit on the calendar, Snetterton 300, for Rounds 7, 8 & 9 on May 20/21.

Chris Ashby
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