Sutton crowned BTCC champion for record-equalling fourth time

Ashley Sutton has been crowned champion of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship for a record-equalling fourth time after wrapping up the title at Brands Hatch this past weekend (October 7/8).

The NAPA Racing UK driver entered the final meeting of the season holding a commanding 45-point lead and victory in the opening encounter around the iconic Grand Prix circuit was enough for him to clinch the coveted crown.

With the title secured, the 29-year-old then went on to win the penultimate race of the season before concluding a quite incredible campaign with a points-paying finish in the finale.

Adding to the titles that he won back in 2017, 2020 and 2021, Ashley’s latest championship triumph has now seen him draw level with Andy Rouse and Colin Turkington on the all-time winners list – cementing him as one of the greatest ever touring car drivers.

In addition to tying the all-time record, Ashley has also become the first driver in the series’ illustrious history to lift the biggest prize in UK motorsport in both front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive machinery.

Ashley’s path to a fourth championship has been nothing short of sensational with six pole positions, 12 wins and a further eight podium finishes being tallied over the course of the ten round schedule.

Along the way, the BRDC Member smashed a number of records including scoring the most wins, podiums, pole positions, fastest laps and laps led in a single season in the modern era. He also became the first driver since Alain Menu in 1997 to win four consecutive races in a season.

Arriving at the Kent venue with one hand on the title, Ashley stamped his authority on the finale by charging to a sixth pole position in final qualifying – which equalled James Thompson’s record from 2003.

Setting a number of laps that were ultimately good enough for top spot, Ashley’s dominance netted him the Goodyear Wingfoot Award, which is bestowed upon the driver with the best qualifying record over the course of the year.

In a season in which he has largely reigned supreme, it was somewhat fitting that Ashley became the youngest ever four-time champion with a superlative lights-to-flag victory in the opening contest.

Blasting away from the front row, the Alliance Racing driver was wheel-perfect throughout the 18-lap bout as he led home outgoing title holder Tom Ingram.

With the championship secured and the pressure off, Ashley produced a carbon copy performance in race two as he charged to an unprecedented 12th victory of the year – which tied the record set by fellow multiple champion Menu more than two decades ago.

The newly crowned four-time champion had to settle for a points-paying finish after being caught up in a melee exiting Graham Hill Bend in the finale, however that wasn’t to dampen the mood after he cemented himself as a BTCC great.

On top of his own personal accolades, Ashley also helped play a critical role in securing NAPA Racing UK/Ford a second successive Teams’ Championship and a maiden Manufacturers’ title.

Ashley Sutton: “It feels pretty surreal to be standing here as a four-time champion! At the moment the magnitude of what we’ve achieved hasn’t fully sunk in but I’m sure over the next week or so I’ll start to take stock of what this all means – it’s just phenomenal!

“For me personally, one of the biggest things I wanted to do was to become the first person to win the title in both front-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-drive cars. To have done that is really special.

“This year is going to be hard to beat. My little boy Sonny arrived just before the season started and it’s been the best thing that has ever happened to me. Becoming a Dad changed my approach and I’ve just been focused on making both him and my fiancé Ellie as proud as possible.

“To have claimed the records that we have this season is a real testament to everyone at NAPA Racing UK and Alliance Racing. So much development has gone into the Ford Focus for this year; we opened every drawer and lifted out every tool to improve the whole package.

“It goes without saying that my engineer Tony (Carrozza) has been instrumental in all of this too. He’s really helped me to dial into the car and without him by my side this would have been hard to do as he is something special.

“I’ve made no secret that I want to go down in the history books as the one of the best-ever touring car drivers so the aim is clear moving forward; to come back and try to win more races and titles. We’ll enjoy this and then it’ll be about resetting and coming back in 2024!”

Chris Ashby
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