Ashley Sutton maintained his lead at the top of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship standings at Brands Hatch this past weekend (June 26/27) after claiming a hard-fought podium finish in race two.

Returning to the venue where he was crowned champion for a second time last November, the Laser Tools Racing driver extended his lead at the summit to three points as he scored a fifth, second and eighth place finishes during the course of race day. 

Entering the third event of the season ladened with 75kgs of success ballast virtue of his lofty championship position, the 27-year-old proved to be one of the standout performers in free practice as he topped the times in the second session.

Dicing with traffic during what was an ultra-competitive qualifying – where 28 of the 29 drivers were covered by less than a second around the 1.2-mile Indy circuit – Ashley pieced together a sensational lap to secure seventh on the grid.

Launching off the fourth row as the lights went out for race one, the Infiniti Q50 driver wasted no time in making progress as he moved up the order during the early stages of the 24-lap contest.

Despite being shuffled back to seventh, the BRDC Superstar continued his unrelenting charge as he fought back to fifth and then applied pressure to fourth-place man Jake Hill for the remainder of the bout.

Carrying substantially less ballast in race two, Ashley charged to the podium and snatched second place on the line. In what proved to be a frenetic battle, the rear-wheel-drive ace pulled off a number of eye-catching moves to slot into third before striking one final time on the last lap.

Getting a good run underneath Tom Oliphant as they exited Clark Curve, Ashley ran side-by-side with the race one winner on the drag to the flag, pipping him by 0.038s.

Starting the reverse grid encounter from tenth, the reigning Independent Drivers’ champion capped off his weekend with another impressive drive as he banked more points with an eighth place finish.

That result in race three not only saw Ashley maintain his lead at the top of the standings but it also saw him continue his run of scoring points in every race this season – a record that only he and one other driver currently holds. 

Leaving Brands Hatch, Ashley has pulled three points clear in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst also regaining control of the BTCC Independent Drivers’ Championship as well, where he holds an identical advantage. 

Ashley Sutton: “It has been another really strong weekend! Coming into the event carrying maximum ballast, to qualify and run inside the top ten across all sessions – and take a podium in race two – is a great result and testament to all of the hard work everyone at Laser Tools Racing is putting in.

“We worked hard in all three races and that podium in race two was a bonus. I really wanted the win but Tom (Ingram) got ahead of me on the first lap and from there I was just chasing him down. Still, it is nice to come away with some silverware and keep the points finishes ticking along.

“We’ve got a five-week break now before Oulton Park – where we should be strong – and then things will really pick up as we have an event every other weekend pretty much.

“It’s early doors in terms of the title battle and there is a long way to go, anything can happen in the BTCC! Consistency has kept us on top this weekend and that is what is going to win this championship. I’m happy with the points we’ve got on the board so now we can rest and get ready to pick things up next month.”

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is next in action on July 31/August 1 as the series heads to Oulton Park.

Chris Ashby
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