Sutton holds firm for race one win
Ashley Sutton held off two-time champion and ‘King of Croft’ Colin Turkington to win the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at the North Yorkshire circuit.
Sutton and Turkington held the top two positions throughout the contest and were rarely separated by more than a few tenths. Team BMW’s Turkington tried several times to nip by but young Subaru star Sutton defended valiantly to claim his second win of the season.
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect a win from that,” enthused Sutton. “My focus was to get away cleanly and we did. It was my best start to date – we needed it and it paid off. We hadn’t the grip level that Colin (Turkington) had on the softer tyre but we were strong in the key areas to maintain the gap for the whole race.
“We’re having a fantastic weekend so far. We’ve bounced back from having a car that didn’t look in the best shape after qualifying yesterday to this – full credit to the team. Croft’s been phenomenal for me the past few years. We’ll keep on at it.”
“The pace in the BMW was good for that race but just not enough for me to feel confident enough to attack, and I was maybe strong in the wrong places,” responded Turkington. “I was wary that it was race one of three on the day and reflecting on Oulton, I gave myself a tough day after not finishing race one. I was trying to force a mistake out of Sutton but overall I have to be happy with the result.
“We didn’t get the car in the sweet spot in the wet but we definitely have found it in the dry. I’m feeling confident for the rest of the day. It should get interesting – there’s not too much weight to add to my car and we’re in good shape.”
The final podium position went to Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo’s Mat Jackson, ending the popular team’s barren run of 2017. It was also an important Independents’ win for Jackson and the Kent-based squad.
“It’s a great result,” said Jackson. “This is a podium for Luke Davenport. First and foremost, we need to get him back but for the team it’s great. We’ve put in a lot of hard work from Oulton to here and we’ve got a platform to build on. The rear-wheel drive cars looked to be in a class of their own from five laps on and to be in the mix with them, with them so suited to Croft is fantastic. We’ve found a lot in the car and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Despite Sutton’s victory it wasn’t a complete success for Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, as incidents arguably prevented all four of its cars from taking top six positions. Jason Plato slid wide at Sunny on the opening lap, although he later recovered to claim tenth, whilst contact between Josh Price and James Cole ended one of their best ever performances in the BTCC.
Other contenders lost out early on, most notably Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal as his Civic Type R suffered rear-left damage following contact with Price’s Subaru. Reigning champion Gordon Shedden provided some joy for the Honda marque as he claimed fifth with maximum-ballast, although he was pipped at the post by the rampant BMW of Rob Collard.
The third BMW of Andrew Jordan claimed a relatively lonely sixth place, whilst Josh Cook starred on his MG return with seventh.
The two Toms, Ingram and Chilton, were locked in battle for much of the 15-laps with the former getting his championship challenge back on-track with eighth.
There was further late drama for the final place in the top ten as Plato nudged his Levorg down the inside of Ollie Jackson’s AmD Audi at the final hairpin. The BTCC legend got a great run and pipped the S3 Saloon across the line, although Jackson still impressed with a number of his own eye-catching moves earlier in the race.
2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 13 – Croft
1 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 15 laps
2 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.671s
3 Mat JACKSON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +8.653s
4 Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +11.307s
5 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +11.858s
6 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +12.984s
7 Josh COOK (GBR) MG Racing RCIB Insurance +18.764s
8 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +19.585s
9 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +19.995s
10 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +35.408s
11 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +35.738s
12 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) Handy Motorsport +44.563s
13 Jake HILL (GBR) TAG Racing +45.961s
14 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed Racing +46.256s
15 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +46.425s
16 Ant WHORTON-EALES (GBR) AmDtuning.com with Cobra Exhausts +47.589s
17 Will BURNS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +49.776s
18 Martin DEPPER (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Duo +50.297s
19 Dennis STRANDBERG (SWE) Team Parker with Maximum Motorsport +51.460s
20 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +51.694s
21 Jack GOFF (GBR) Eurotech Racing +53.783s
22 Michael EPPS (GBR) Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing +54.217s
23 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +56.736s
24 Dave NEWSHAM (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +2 laps
25 James COLE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +4 laps
26 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +5 laps
27 Josh PRICE (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +5 laps
28 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +10 laps
29 Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +13 laps