Sutton makes more BTCC history with Donington Park GP victory

Ashley Sutton created more history in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this past weekend (August 26/27) at Donington Park as he scored a ninth victory of the season to extend his advantage at the top of the standings.

On what proved to be a fraught race day, the NAPA Racing UK driver set a new record for the most wins in a single campaign in the NGTC era before adding another podium and top five finish to open up a 42-point lead with six races left to run.

The three-time champion arrived at the Leicestershire venue – which was running on the Grand Prix layout for the first time since 2002 – holding a 37-point advantage following a rollercoaster three races last time out at Knockhill. 

Getting dialled into the 2.487-mile circuit during practice, the front-wheel-drive ace once again starred in qualifying as he produced yet another superlative performance to secure his fifth pole position of the year.

Trading times with title protagonist Tom Ingram throughout a majority of the session, Ashley  stamped his authority late on by lighting up the timesheets with a 1:33.154 to clinch pole by a little over a tenth of a second.

The Ford Focus driver was made to work for his record-breaking triumph in a wet opening encounter as he was shuffled down to third on the opening lap, however he wasted no time in fighting his way back to the front. 

Making his way past the Toyota of Ricky Collard at the end of the first tour, Ashley then dived down the inside of Ingram at the Melbourne Hairpin a lap later to take the lead and from there he cruised to a comfortable victory. 

Race two saw Ashley bank more valuable points as he clinched his 16th podium of the season. Holding the lead off the line, he dropped behind Ingram early on and then nursed a long brake pedal for the remainder of the contest. 

Despite coming under immense pressure from the BMW of Jake Hill, Ashley produced a masterful defence to maintain second place all the way to the chequered flag. 

Starting the reverse grid finale in 11th, the BRDC Member managed to keep himself out of trouble and make steady progress to complete a strong day at the office.

In what proved to be a frenetic battle inside the top ten, Ashley bided his time before benefitting from his rivals getting held in the latter stages – which allowed him to find a way through and go on to finish fifth. 

Ashley Sutton: “It’s been another phenomenal weekend! At the start of the weekend I’d have been happy to just be able to maintain the lead we arrived with, so to have now extended it to 42 points is great. We’re three races closer and have that little bit more of a buffer up our sleeves.

“As always, the guys and girls at NAPA Racing UK gave me a mega car; I couldn’t fault it in qualifying and race one. We had an issue with the brake pedal going long in races two and three so I was just mindful of playing it safe and bagging the points. 

“What we’re doing at the moment is making history and it’s pretty surreal. I’m trying to just soak it all in and live in the moment as much as I can with the team and my family. We’re at the business end of the season now; I’ve been here before and so I know what needs to be done. 

“We’ve got a couple of weeks off until Silverstone so we’ll get our heads down, I’ll put in the hours on the sim and together we’ll make sure we come out all guns blazing. It’s going to be tough with no hybrid but there are a few things we can do to counteract it. I’m looking forward to it!”

The penultimate event of the 2023 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship will see Rounds 25, 26 & 27 play out around the Home of British Motor Racing, Silverstone, on September 23/24.

Chris Ashby
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