Sutton ‘plotting for next year’ following victory at Brands Hatch
Ashley Sutton brought the curtain down on his 2019 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship campaign in fine fashion at the final event of the season, claiming victory around the Grand Prix layout of Brands Hatch.
In what has been a rollercoaster season for the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver, the 25-year-old entered the season finale with his sights set on a big result; and duly delivered in front of a bumper trackside crowd.
The 2017 champion mastered the wet conditions in his rear-wheel-drive Levorg both throughout practice and in qualifying. Setting a best time which saw him second on the grid, Sutton put himself in contention for a strong race day.
Launching into the lead from the outside of the front row, Sutton held the early advantage in race one before being shuffled back to second shortly after. As the rain around the circuit began to intensify, the Subaru driver valiantly fought to stay amongst the front-runners.
With several drivers opting to pit for wet tyres, Sutton showcased his comprehensive car control to continue on the dry tyre compound, although the conditions ultimately didn’t favour him in the end and he was relegated to 11th.
Sutton’s crowning glory came in the penultimate race of the season as he served up a virtuoso performance to clinch his and the teams’ first win of the year.
Starting on the sixth row of the grid, the former Jack Sears Trophy champion enjoyed an impressive opening lap, scything his way into third place by the end of the first tour.
Following a brief safety car period, Sutton was on the move once more and showcased his ruthless overtaking prowess to pass the Honda pairing of Matt Neal and Dan Cammish – taking the lead in the process.
From there, the Hertfordshire driver was unchallenged as he powered away into the distance to claim a 14th BTCC career win.
Starting tenth by virtue of the reverse grid draw, Sutton rounded off his season with more silverware as he produced another storming drive to clinch third place – despite being ladened with success ballast.
Working together with former team-mate Josh Cook, the Renault UK Clio Cup champion of 2015 worked his way into fourth early on and remained there until the closing stages when he overhauled Cook for third; signing off the year in style.
Tallying six podium finishes in total, Sutton ends the season eighth in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst Adrian Flux Subaru Racing finished fourth and eighth in the BTCC Manufacturer/Constructors’ Championship and BTCC Teams’ Championship respectively.
Subaru will leave the BTCC after the title-winning BMR Racing squad’s four-year deal to field the Levorg came to an end.
“It’s been a tough season,” said Sutton, “so it is fantastic to round out the year with a win and some more silverware – the team have worked tirelessly throughout so it is a great reward for them all. I was going into the finale wanting to win a race and that is exactly what we achieved!
“We knew we would be strong after qualifying but the weather didn’t help us in race one. In race two though the car was hooked up as soon as the lights went out; I was into third by lap one and then it was just about picking my moments to take the lead.
“Once I got out front it was relatively easy and I could dictate the pace, look after the tyres and bring it home. To finish third in the final race is the cherry on top and the perfect way to sign off 2019.
“It has been no secret that this year has been a frustrating one, but we’ve kept pushing and reaped the rewards. It felt great to be in the fight on Sunday! It will be nice to relax for a little while, hit the reset button and then I’ll begin plotting for next year.”