Sutton retains BTCC lead with Oulton Park podium brace

Ashley Sutton heads into the annual Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship summer break at the top of the Drivers’ standings after producing a double podium performance at Oulton Park.

Two second place finishes, coupled with an unfortunate retirement in race three, saw the NAPA Racing UK driver leave the Cheshire venue holding a six-point advantage heading into the second half of the season.

Arriving at the fifth meeting of the year in scintillating form – having won six of the last eight races – the 29-year-old laid down his marker to the rest of the field with a commanding display during Saturday’s qualifying session.

For the third successive meeting in a row, qualifying belonged to the Ford Focus ST driver as he obliterated the lap record on his way to pole position; the tenth of his career in the UK’s premier motorsport series.

Topping the times in the opening segment, the three-time champion then upped the ante during the Top Ten Showdown as he punched in a best time of 1:24.832 to claim outright honours by two tenths of a second.

Race day would see the front-wheel-drive racer add to his silverware collection as he tallied a pair of measured drives across races one and two.

Blasting off the line for the opening encounter, Ashley dropped behind the fast-starting BMW of Jake Hill as the lights went out but he wasted no time in trying to regain the position with a bold move around the outside at Cascades.

Forced off track slightly by Hill, the BRDC Member soon slotted in behind the West Surrey Racing man and from that point on he cruised to the second step on the rostrum.

Race two proved to be a carbon copy result as Ashley again shadowed Hill all the way to the chequered flag; albeit this time he had to withstand pressure from reigning champion Tom Ingram at times.

Unfortunately, Ashley’s race day came to a premature end in the reverse grid finale as contact with Ingram on the run down to the first corner resulted in the multiple title winner hitting the pit wall and breaking his suspension.

Ashley Sutton: “It’s frustrating to be going into the summer break off the back of a non-finish and basically having seen all of our hard work over recent weeks be undone immediately because of one incident.

“Since Donington Park we’ve been playing catch up and there’s no denying that we’ve been on a mega run of results. I’d been chipping away at things and finishing in front of Tom in those first two races had got the gap up to a number that I was happy with.

“Despite seeing the lead cut to six points there are plenty of positives to take away from the weekend. The car and team are working at a phenomenal level and I’m feeling better than ever behind the wheel.

“We’ve got a nice summer break to hit the reset button, see what more performance we can extract and then its off to Croft – a place I absolutely love – to kick off the second half of the season. This title battle is only going to get tougher but I’m more than ready for the fight.”

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship returns to action on July 29/30 when the series makes its annual trip to Croft Circuit for Rounds 16, 17 & 18.

Chris Ashby
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