The summer break had come to an end and we headed to Snetterton for Rounds 16,17 and 18. After a strong performance at the tyre test a few weeks prior to the meeting Ashley showed there was the potential in the package he had to collect another strong points haul.
Heading into Qualifying the main goal for Ashley was to try and keep it on the front two rows as he felt he didn’t quite have the ultimate pace to beat the ballast free Honda of Goff. It was a tough session having his fastest lap taken away due to track limits, but as always he dug deep and rose above the challenge setting a quicker time than his previous disallowed lap, this meant he ended up on the second row of the grid in P3 and the highest placed Subaru Levorg.
Race one was all about damage limitation as the odds looked against Ashley considering he was on the medium tyre compound and everyone around him was on the soft. A great opening lap meant that the top three had gaped themselves to the pack behind. Ashley was sat comfortably in third just playing the waiting game. An error from his championship rival Colin Turkington meant he spun on the exit of the ‘Bomb Hole’. This game plan soon then changed at the mid way point, with Jack Goff taking the led and Ash in second, it was the case of just sitting tight and applying the pressure on for the remainder of the race. Goff started to struggle with his Honda on the soft tyre in the closing stages of the race. With two laps to go Ash made a move on the exit of turn four, despite being run up to the white line and onto the grass he kept his foot in to complete the move into turn 5. Staying focused for the last lap meant he came across the line first, winning by 2.3 seconds back to Jack Goff. This result meant he was now lying second in the championship just 2 points off Gordon Shedden as his three rivals, Turkington, Collard and Shedden all finished 7th, 9th and 13th.
The result from race one now meant Ashley was carrying full success ballast, yes this was going to make the job a little harder but at the same time everyone around him now was carrying success ballast and back onto the medium tyre, the same as Ashley. A great start meant he pulled out a comfortable gap on the opening lap just before a safety car was called. The restart was going to be very important to make sure he regained that gap he built up prior to the safety car, mastering the restart meant he did just that. From then on it was the case of just being pin point perfect with no errors to maintain the gap back to Goff. Ashley’s job become a little easier when Jack started defending from the charging BMW’s. This meant he could relax and let the gap open up to 4.0 seconds. Backing it off the last few laps and bringing it home for a lights to flag victory meant Ashley was the first person this season to win a back to back race. He now was leading the British Touring Car Championship for the first time ever by 6 points to Shedden.
The gamble taken to run the option tyre in the final race had payed off so far throughout the day. This meant that he could potentially score another strong result as the soft tyre was the preferred option for the Subaru. However starting P8 with the full 75kg of Success Ballast meant that was going to make the job a lot harder, not forgetting that all of his championship contenders were starting in front of him. Unfortunately it all came to an end half way through the opening lap, after taking a huge hit in the side from Rob Austin at the apex of turn 6. Rob was a complete passenger himself after being hit from behind on the approach to turn 6. It was just a very unfortunate incident which lead to Ashley having to DNF the car as it picked up too much damage.