Ashley Sutton secures BTCC runners-up spot after battling Brands Hatch performance

Ashley Sutton brought the curtain down on the 2022 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch this past weekend (October 8/9) with a valiant performance that saw him clinch runners-up laurels.

On a tense final day of the season around the famous Grand Prix circuit in Kent, the outgoing champion took the title fight down to the wire however two fourth place finishes and a fifth wasn’t enough to prevent Tom Ingram from lifting the coveted crown.

Despite missing out on the Drivers’ Championship, Ashley did help NAPA Racing UK wrap up the Teams’ Championship, an impressive achievement in their first year of competing in the UK’s premier motorsport series.

Heading into the season finale holding a five-point advantage in the standings, the 28-year-old produced one of his best-ever laps in qualifying on Saturday to hustle his front-wheel-drive machine to third on the grid for Sunday’s opener – despite having no hybrid deployment at his disposal.

The opening contest proved to be one of attrition for Ashley as he piloted his Ford Focus ST to fifth place. After receiving a hit from title rival Jake Hill at the start, the three-time champion then suffered a turbo failure following the first of two safety car periods.

Down on power, Ashley showcased every ounce of his race craft and skill to at one stage head an eight-car train for the podium, before being shuffled back to fourth as the contest wore on.

Race two would see further frustration for the BRDC Member as a lack of race-winning pace saw him ultimately settle for another battling drive to fifth; setting up a three-way, grandstand finish for the title.

Entering the final round of the season trailing Ingram by 14 points and Hill by 11, the three-time champion – who started from sixth virtue of the reverse grid draw – was on maximum attack from the get-go and was up to fourth by lap three.

Unable to gain ground on the top three and with both Hill and Ingram hot on his heels as the laps ticked by, Ashley’s chances of a record-equalling fourth title slipped away; however second place overall was still very much up for grabs.

Running nose-to-tail in the closing laps, the deciding moment came on the final tour as Hill attempted a move at Paddock Hill Bend, which resulted in the latter running wide. That allowed Ashley an untroubled run to the chequered flag to secure second in the standings.

Ashley Sutton: “First and foremost I have to say a massive congratulations to Tom Ingram and his entire team. They’ve been at the top of the game throughout the season and are deserving champions. I know how special it is lifting that trophy so I’m really pleased for him.

“I certainly gave it a good go though! Of course I would have loved to have got that fourth title – which would have been my first in a front-wheel-drive car – but it just wasn’t to be this year. I can’t be too disappointed; I’ve had three wins and a further eight podiums so it’s still been a great year. We also wrapped up the Teams’ title too!

“If you look at where we were at the start of the season you would have written me out of being in title contention. We had some struggles with the car but everyone at NAPA Racing UK and Motorbase Performance worked their socks off to turn it around and here we are as runners-up.

“Seeing Tom lift that trophy will only serve as added motivation for me to get it back next year. I’m in a really fantastic position in my career where I’m with a brilliant team and in a secure spot where I don’t need to worry about trying to put deals together. It’s a really exciting time and I can’t wait for what’s to come!”

Chris Ashby
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