28 Sep Ashley Sutton produces sensational fightback drive to score Silverstone podium
Ashley Sutton completed a sensational fightback at Silverstone in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this past weekend (September26/27), scoring a podium finish in race three to maintain his advantage at the summit of the standings.
On what proved to be a blockbuster sixth meeting of the season that saw the title pendulum swing back and forth, the Laser Tools Racing driver charged from the back of the grid to third in the reverse grid encounter to retake the points lead he had lost in race two.
Arriving at the Home of British Motor Racing ladened with 60kgs of success ballast, the 2017 champion kicked off his weekend hustling his Infiniti Q50 around the 1.64-mile National layout to a lap good enough for seventh on the grid in qualifying.
Launching off the fourth row of the grid in race one, Ashley moved up a spot during the opening stages and soon began to pick up the pace as he slotted into fifth as the second half of the race.
Hounding the back of title protagonist Colin Turkington, the 26-year-old was unable to find a way past his adversary and ultimately settled for fifth.
Losing a small amount of weight for race two, Ashley had hoped to move further up the order however a lock up and inadvertent contact with Rory Butcher on the first lap would scupper his chances.
Dropping to tenth, the rear-wheel-drive ace nursed his front left tyre for a majority of the race before it finally punctured, forcing him into the pits and out of the points. Bolting a new tyre on, the former Jack Sears Trophy winner rejoined the fray to net the fastest lap and crucially, an additional point.
Starting race three in 26th and now trailing Turkington by ten points in the standings, Ashley produced one of his trademark charges to narrowly miss out on a fifth win of the year.
Free of ballast, the BRDC Superstar stormed into the top 20 by the end of the first lap and continued to make one eye-catching move after another. Storming into the points, Ashley’s progress came to an abrupt end however as the red flag was shown following a scary accident for Butcher.
Lining up 14th on the restart for a 12-lap sprint to the finish, Ashley’s relentless charged continued as he soon began picking his way through the top ten, making a crucial move on Turkington.
The further he moved up the order the closer the gap in the points became and soon Ashley found himself battling for the lead with Ollie Jackson and Tom Oliphant. Try as he might, the RCIB Insurance-backed racer couldn’t find a way past and was classified third – capping off a monumental fightback.
Leaving Silverstone, Ashley holds a four-point advantage at the summit of the BTCC Drivers’ Championship. Ashley also carries a comfortable lead in the BTCC Independent Drivers’ Championship as well, leading Butcher by 48 points.
Ashley Sutton: “As I’ve said before, anything can happen in the BTCC and I think Silverstone has proven just that. Things didn’t look great after race two but we threw everything at in race three and reaped the rewards to come away still leading the points.
“Seventh in qualifying wasn’t too bad considering we had a few little issues and race one was all about banking some points and putting myself in a position to get some weight out of the car, which we did.
“In race two I locked up heading into Becketts and from then on it was a matter of when and not if the tyre would go. Getting the weight out of the car transformed everything, it was phenomenal. I can’t get over how good the car felt. I just picked my opportunities and found my way to the front – it was a great way to end a rollercoaster day.
“We now head to Croft, a circuit I love, with a small lead so we will see how things play out there. We’re getting towards the business end of the season now so every point will be crucial.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship next visit on the 2020 schedule is Croft Circuit where Rounds 19, 20 & 21 will play out on October 10/11.