Sutton: ‘Bring on Croft, I love the place’
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Ashley Sutton served up a battling performance at Thruxton as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship paid the first of two visits to the Hampshire venue in 2019, and he’s in the strongest position he’s been in yet heading into a Croft race weekend.
Following two frenetic practice sessions, Sutton and his ballast-ladened machine proved to be one of the cars to watch in qualifying as he maximised everything he had.
In what proved to be a record-breaking 30 minutes, which was truncated by a late red flag, the 2017 champion underlined his credentials to secure seventh on the grid.
Race 1 saw Sutton serve up a gritty performance. Holding the position off the line, he was able to hold off advances from both Halfords Yuasa Racing’s Matt Neal and Sterling Insurance with Power Maxed Racing’s Rob Collard for a majority of the 16-lap encounter. In the closing stages, however, Neal and Collard found a way through, with Sutton keeping his points tally ticking over with a ninth place finish.
Running as high as eighth at one stage, Sutton was pushing his car to the absolute limit. Despite an awesome piece of car control on the final tour to narrowly miss the back of Team Toyota GB with Ginsters’ Tom Ingram, Sutton lost out to two of his rivals, dropping him to 11th at the chequered flag.
Virtue of the reverse grid draw, Sutton was drawn onto pole position for the final race of the weekend. Going wheel-to-wheel with former team-mate Josh Cook as the field streamed through the opening sequence of corners for the first time, Sutton was shuffled back to second and then third, as Rory Butcher made a move a few laps later.
Settling into a groove, the former Jack Sears Trophy winner remained hot on the heels of top two as the battle for victory raged on. Despite slipstreaming his way onto the back of Butcher on several occasions, Sutton was unable to find a way past and would ultimately finish third to claim his fourth podium of the 2019 campaign so far.
Sutton sits fourth in the Drivers’ Championship leaving Thruxton although he remains firmly in the hunt, trailing series leader Colin Turkington by just five points.
“We maximised everything we had in qualifying and did the same in all three races too, there was nothing else left in the tank,” said Sutton. “Everyone at Team BMR did an amazing job over the weekend and to come away with some points and another podium was a nice reward for everyone.
“The big positive from the weekend wass that we are still firmly in the mix in the standings and we head to Croft next, a circuit I’ve always enjoyed driving. It’s going to be interesting to see how the resurfacing plays its part but I will be going there confident of another solid points haul – I love the place!”