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Super Sutton becomes season’s best qualifier

Ashley Sutton bounced back from a troubled start to Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship qualifying at Croft this weekend to split the rear-wheel drive cars in third place on the grid – in so doing becoming the season’s best qualifier to date.

Having already displayed a scintillating turn of speed during his rookie campaign in the UK’s premier motor sport series, Sutton again starred in qualifying at Croft – but a couple of early errors left him languishing well down the timesheets as the clock ticked down.

The MG driver pulled it all together later on, however, to vault up to third position, narrowly being pipped to front-wheel drive honours around a circuit that has traditionally favoured RWD machinery. That also saw Sutton overtake Tom Ingram to become the fastest average qualifier over the first half of 2016, as the only competitor to line up inside the top ten in every meeting so far.

“If someone had told me before the weekend that I would qualify third at a predominantly rear-wheel drive track, I would definitely have taken it!” the 22-year-old acknowledged. “I’m over the moon.

“We didn’t use new tyres in practice, so I had never run them around here before qualifying and I was caught out by how responsive the car was on them at the chicane on my first ‘flyer’.

“We then put on another new set of tyres and went back out. I was on a really good lap, which was two tenths faster than the one that eventually put me third, but I lost the car again at the Complex. I had to make quite a big save, which hurt the tyres a little bit and then the next lap was the one that got me the grid position.

“It’s incredibly close and it was a shame not to be the fastest front-wheel drive car, but hats off to Dan. It will be an interesting race day and I’m definitely happier starting on the inside line, so we’ll see what happens…”

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