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Sutton tops team-mate Plato in Croft opener

Adrian Flux Subaru Racing scored a one-two finish in the opening Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship race at Croft Circuit after Ash Sutton and Jason Plato fended off their rivals.

Sutton took a relatively commanding lights-to-flag victory as team-mate Plato scrapped with BMW Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan behind for much of the contest. Jordan nipped into second on the run down to turn one on the first lap, and the BMW 125i M Sport driver spent most of the race trying to defend from Plato. The 2013 champion couldn’t hang on, however, and eventually had to relinquish second to the #99 Subaru Levorg through the chicane ahead of Hawthorn Bend.

Things got worse for Jordan as, struggling with his rear tyres, he threw away a podium place after running off-track through Clervaux late on, which allowed the impressive Tom Ingram by to complete the rostrum order in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Avensis.

Plato homed in on Sutton during the closing laps, but the latter always seemed in control and the reigning champion cruised to his first win of the season.

Sam Tordoff produced a masterclass defensive drive to take fourth as he held off the Team BMWs of Colin Turkington and Rob Collard for the entire 17-lap race, as Power Maxed TAG Racing’s Josh Cook looked on from behind.

BTC Norlin’s Daniel Lloyd performed admirably in front of his home fans to take eighth in the older shaped Honda Civic Type R, whilst Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal battled through to ninth in the all-new version of the car. Jordan recovered to round out the top ten positions.

The main incident of note happened on the opening lap when Rob Austin’s Alfa tangled with Stephen Jelley’s BMW, which brought about a brief safety car period.

Ash Sutton said: “This definitely felt a long way away two weeks ago – I certainly didn’t expect to be standing where I am now. Like last year, we opted to run the hard tyre in race one. That was always going to make life a little bit harder, but sometimes you have to take a gamble and it paid off again – although the old boy was coming back at me by the end! Fortunately, I had a little bit left in the tank so whenever he closed the gap, I could open the tap again. I’m a little bit further behind in the championship than I was at this stage last year, but you never give up trying and I always give it my best shot and now there’s a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.” 
 
Jason Plato said: “This is what I get out of bed for in the morning – it’s what I’ve put my whole life into – so when it goes wrong and you’re not in control, it’s just awful. It’s a real relief and a nice feeling to be back in a competitive car again. Quietly behind-the-scenes we have worked hard to find some more time from the Subaru and get it closer to where I want it to be. We’re still not quick enough on the straights, which is why it took me quite a long time to get past [Andrew] Jordan and I had to wait for his tyres to go off, but we’re off the back row and back in the mix.” 
 
Tom Ingram said: “I’m really pleased with that; I genuinely didn’t expect to be able to come through, especially with so many rear-wheel drive cars around me. I had to remain mindful of where Sam [Tordoff] was to begin with and try to establish a gap, and then with AJ, I think he just missed his braking marker heading into Clervaux and went off – and I nearly followed him! That would have been a bit of a schoolboy error on my part. All credit to the team – to finish on the podium with the hard tyre, ballast and at a rear-wheel drive circuit is a great result.” 

2018 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship – Round 13 – Croft Circuit

Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing 17 laps
2 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux Subaru Racing +0.863s
3 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Speedworks Motorsport +8.897s
Sam TORDOFF (GBR) Team GardX Racing with Motorbase +11.293s
5 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +11.450s
Rob COLLARD (GBR) Team BMW +11.696s
7 Josh COOK (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +12.304s
Dan LLOYD (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +16.247s
Matt NEAL (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +18.222s
10 Andrew JORDAN (GBR) BMW Pirtek Racing +19.114s
11 Senna PROCTOR (GBR) Power Maxed TAG Racing +20.177s
12 James COLE (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +23.658s
13 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +26.969s
14 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +30.579s
15 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Team Shredded Wheat Racing with Gallagher +30.766s
16 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Ciceley Motorsport +31.436s
17 Chris SMILEY (GBR) BTC Norlin Racing +35.249s
18 Josh PRICE (GBR) Autoglym Academy Racing +38.086s
19 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) Halfords Yuasa Racing +38.381s
20 Mike BUSHELL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +38.504s
21 Jack GOFF (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +38.769s
22 Matt SIMPSON (GBR) Simpson Racing +39.812s
23 Michael CAINE (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +40.311s
24 Bobby THOMPSON (GBR) Team HARD with Trade Price Cars +47.813s
25 Sam SMELT (GBR) AmD with Cobra Exhausts +49.022s
26 Tom BOARDMAN (GBR) AmD with AutoAid/RCIB Insurance Racing +57.132s
27 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +3 laps
28 Brett SMITH (GBR) WIX Racing with Eurotech +3 laps
29 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Mac Tools with Ciceley Motorsport +7 laps
30 Jake HILL (GBR) Trade Price Cars with Brisky Racing +15 laps
31 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team Parker Racing +16 laps
32 Rob AUSTIN (GBR) DUO Motorsport with HMS Racing +17 laps

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