10 Aug Ashley Sutton scores double Brands Hatch podium to maintain strong BTCC start
Ashley Sutton maintained his strong start to the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with another superlative performance at Brands Hatch this past weekend (August 8/9), clinching a pair of podium finishes.
One week on from his historic maiden win for the Infiniti Q50 at Donington Park, the Laser Tools Racing driver was back in action around the Grand Prix layout of the Kent venue and keen to strengthen his early title challenge.
In sweltering temperatures, the 26-year-old’s weekend initially got off to a frustrating start as a broken heat exchanger limited his running in Saturday practice, leaving him having completed only a handful of laps heading into qualifying.
Losing one of his fastest times due to exceeding track limits, the 2017 champion ultimately went on to secure 14th place on the grid for the opening encounter.
Launching off the line as the lights went out for race one, the BRDC Superstar was soon on the move and was inside the top ten within a matter of laps. Maintaining a steady pace, Ashley soon took advantage of issues for those in front of him and progressed further, crossing the line in sixth.
Ashley continued his march towards the front of the field in race two with another superlative performance. Maintaining his position off the start, the former Jack Sears Trophy winner hounded the back of Tom Chilton for a number of laps before the Honda driver encountered trouble, gifting Ashley fifth.
Fifth soon became fourth for Ashley as he found a way past Ollie Jackson and that had appeared to be as far as the Infiniti driver would get, with the top three having built up a sizeable gap. However, with a handful of laps to go a mechanical failure for Dan Cammish promoted Ashley onto the podium in third.
Starting the reverse grid race from tenth, Ashley then went onto narrowly miss out on claiming his second win of the campaign. Making a sensational start from the fifth row, the BMR Engineering ace rocketed into fifth by Graham Hill Bend and set out by closing on the top four.
Jumping up to fourth by the end of the opening tour, Ashley then jumped up to second after an eye-catching move through Westfield. Setting his sights on race leader Tom Oliphant, the 15-time race winner tried absolutely everything to find a way past the BMW driver but ultimately had to settle for second.
At the end of a frenetic weekend at Brands Hatch, Ashley moves to second in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst also ascending to the summit of the BTCC Independent Drivers’ Championship.
Ashley Sutton: “I’m happy to come away with two podiums this weekend; considering we were on the back foot after not running in FP2 we can’t complain with the results we’ve had.
“Missing FP2 meant we were playing catch up and after qualifying 14th we were in for a busy race day. The car was mega though and we kept our nose clean in races one and two, picking up some great points and some silverware.
“I had a mega start race three, got my elbows out and managed to get towards the front early on in race but despite throwing everything I had at Tom I couldn’t get the win. I think the weight we had on-board hindered us a bit but second is still a fantastic result.
“It’s been a solid start to the season and everyone at Laser Tools Racing and BMR Engineering has done a phenomenal job. We’ve now got a few days to take stock and see what improvements we can make before Oulton Park in a couple of weeks.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship next heads to Oulton Park for Rounds 7, 8 and 9 on August 22/23.