06 Aug Ashley Sutton left unrewarded after showing fighting spirit at Snetterton
Ashley Sutton produced a star performance in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Snetterton this past weekend (August 3/4) but was left to wonder what might have been as his fighting spirit and overtaking prowess yielded just two points finishes.
Kicking off the second half of the season following the annual six-week summer break, the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver descended on Norfolk optimistic of making a return to the podium after a challenging couple of events.
Qualifying around the 2.97-mile circuit proved challenging for the Subaru Levorg driver with a best time of 1:55.986 being set in the session – giving him an 18th place start for the opening encounter.
In a twist for the weekend, drivers would have all three Dunlop tyre compounds available to them over the course of race day with choices not having to be made until they left the pit-lane and made their way to the grid.
Putting a strategy in place that would see the long game being played by the manufacturer-backed squad, the BRDC Superstar opted to run the hard tyre compound for race one.
Staying out of trouble and capitalising on the troubles that those ahead of him encountered, Sutton progressed up the order and took the chequered flag in 12th.
Starting on the sixth row for race two and with the medium compound now bolted on his BMR Racing machine, the 25-year-old continued his charge through the field as he produced a string of overtakes to move inside the top ten and finish seventh.
Virtue of the reverse grid draw Sutton lined up in second place and with the faster soft tyre for the final race of the day, whilst those around him were on the harder compound.
As the lights went out, the 2017 champion made a strong start and slotted into second place as former team-mate Jason Plato muscled into the lead at the Wilson hairpin. From there, a titanic battle for the lead took place which saw Sutton fight tooth and nail to claim his first win of the season.
Utilising the Levorg’s corner speed, the rear-wheel-driver racer made a daring move for the lead on lap seven, running side-by-side on the outside of turns one and two to give him the inside line for turn three.
Sadly, Sutton’s lead didn’t last long as contact from Plato heading into Agostini just one corner later dropped him back a spot and with him to do it all again. Continuing to hound Plato, the crucial moment in the race came on lap nine as both Sutton and Rory Butcher flanked Plato as they approached Brundle corner.
Fiercely fighting for the lead, three into one unfortunately didn’t go with Sutton and Plato coming to blows once more, leaving GO Homes-sponsored racer spinning across the track and dropping down the order to 20th – ending his hopes of a richly-deserved victory.
Leaving Snetterton, Sutton sits sixth in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst Adrian Flux Subaru Racing are third and seventh in the BTCC Manufacturer/Constructors Championship and BTCC Teams’ Championship respectively.
Ashley Sutton: “After qualifying down the field we came up with a strategy that would hopefully mean we would be in the mix and on the right tyre for race three, which paid off. Races one and two were tough but I managed to stay out of trouble and utilise the cars strengths to make progress.
“Getting drawn on front row of the reverse grid and with the soft tyre, whilst those around us were on the hard compound, couldn’t have been better. I gave it absolutely everything in race three; kept it clean whilst battling for the lead, gave racing room, etc – but that still wasn’t seemingly enough as it came to an end through no fault of our own.
“I can’t thank the team enough, they’ve worked their socks off all weekend and deserved a result in that last one. We go back to Thruxton in a few weeks and that will likely be tough for us given the characteristics of that circuit but we’ll do our best to bounce back from this weekend and keep fighting.”
Next on the 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship calendar is a second visit to the fastest circuit in the country, Thruxton, for Rounds 19, 20 & 21 on August 17/18.