Ashley Sutton scores top six double at Croft

Ashley Sutton remains in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship title fight heading into the summer break despite only scoring a top six double on what proved to be a frustrating weekend (June 25/26) at Croft Circuit.

The NAPA Racing UK driver saw his hard work in races one and two – where he scored a brace of top six finishes to close the gap at the top of the standings – become undone in race three as contact early on forced him out of the points.

Arriving at the North Yorkshire venue having clinched five podiums from the past six races, the reigning champion dialled in his Ford Focus ST throughout Saturday’s two practice sessions ahead of what turned out to be a truncated qualifying.

Three red flag stoppages meant that the 28-year-old only had the opportunity for one flying lap, which came in the latter stages and was ultimately good enough for seventh.

Ashley enjoyed a relatively trouble-free drive in the first of Sunday’s three races as he bagged valuable points in sixth. Jumping up a spot on the opening lap, the front-wheel-drive ace then held position all the way to the chequered flag.

Race two then saw the three-time title winner deliver a carbon copy drive as he chalked up a second successive sixth place finish. Holding station off the line, Ashley settled into a groove and ran unchallenged to further bolster his points tally.

The BRDC Member then started the reverse grid encounter from seventh and had been on course to make it three top six drives from three races before accident damage put pay to that.

Making a move on Tom Chilton at the hairpin on lap three, Ashley could do nothing to prevent the Hyundai from blasting back past him down the start-finish straight before contact was made at Clervaux, breaking the left rear of Ashley’s car.

Leaving Croft and heading into the annual summer break, Ashley now sits fourth in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship, 24 points behind series leader Tom Ingram.

Ashley Sutton: “It’s been a similar weekend to Oulton Park where we’ve had two solid points finishes and then seen that hard work become undone in race three.

“We only had one lap in qualifying so I was happy to start off seventh and then in races one and two we just kept out of trouble to pick up solid points. To come away with nothing in race three is frustrating but we’ve just got to dust ourselves down and go again.

“Knockhill is next on the calendar but that isn’t the main focus for me or the team, the Snetterton tyre test is. It’s obvious we aren’t where we want to be at the moment and there is time to find.

“We’ve already begun putting a plan together of what we want to try during that test next month. Hopefully we can make some unlock a few things, make some progress and then be able to get back amongst the podium positions in Scotland.”

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship returns to action on July 30/31 when the series makes its yearly trip north of the border to Knockhill for Rounds 16, 17 & 18.

Chris Ashby
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