21 Sep Ashley Sutton enjoys stellar Thruxton weekend to move into BTCC points lead
Ashley Sutton moved to the summit of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship standings at Thruxton this past weekend (September 19/20) after producing a flawless race day performance which netted him a trio of top five finishes.
Arriving at the fastest circuit in the UK trailing Colin Turkington by ten points, the Laser Tools Racing didn’t put a wheel wrong in his Infiniti Q50, making progress in each encounter to leave the Hampshire venue holding a 16-point advantage.
Knowing that the high-speed nature of the 2.35-mile circuit wasn’t going to favour the characteristics of the rear-wheel-drive machine that has seen it flourish so far this season, the 2017 was on the limit during qualifying on Saturday.
Driving around issues that had effected the car in both free practice sessions, the BRDC Superstar posted the 11th fastest time whilst ladened with 54kgs of success ballast.
Pouring through the data and making several changes overnight, Ashley’s race-winning saloon was transformed come Sunday and the 26-year-old proved to be at his brilliant best to maximise every opportunity.
As the lights went out for race one Ashley was immediately on the move, jumping into the top ten and onto the back of Turkington. Hounding the back of the BMW in the early stages, Ashley finally made his move at Allard before his title rival suffered mechanical woes – dropping him down the order.
Making further progress as the laps ticked by, including an eye-catching move past Rory Butcher through the Complex, the former Jack Sears Trophy title winner crossed the line in fifth and in-doing so, took control of the points for the first time in 2020.
Carrying less success ballast in race two, Ashley served up another stellar drive to finish fourth. Taking the fight to the top three during the opening sequence of corners, Ashley filled the mirrors of Matt Neal for a majority of the 16-lap encounter but ultimately couldn’t find a way onto the podium.
Starting the reverse grid race in fifth, Ashley bagged another fourth place finish to further extend his lead at the top of the standings. In what proved to be a thrilling climax to the weekend, Ashley diced with Butcher and Tom Ingram throughout the race for the final place on the rostrum but he once again had to settle for fourth.
In addition to topping the overall Drivers’ Championship, Ashley has also extended his lead at the top of the Independent Drivers’ Championship.
Ashley Sutton: “It has been another great weekend for everyone at Laser Tools Racing and BMR Engineering. Coming here we knew it wasn’t going to be our strongest track so to come away with three top five finishes and the lead in the points is a fantastic.
“We had a bit of luck with Colin having his issue in race one, but we maximised everything that we could to basically get a 26-point swing in the championship. It was tough out there, out the back of the circuit in a rear-wheel-drive was certainly lively.
“Going to Silverstone in a few days time with maximum ballast won’t be ideal but we have the points in the bag and also I think the car will be a little better suited there than it has here.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship now heads to the home of British motorsport, Silverstone, for the next three rounds of the 2020 season on September 26/27.