ASH SUTTON SLIDES HIS WAY TO RACE 3 WIN
Reigning champion Ash Sutton slid his way to a first Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship victory of the season as the weather fell in his favour during the final contest at Thruxton.
The Laser Tools Racing star has been in fighting form throughout the day and had scythed his way to the front early in the reverse-grid encounter with the vast majority of the field running on Goodyear wet tyres.
Jake HILL (MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square), Tom Oliphant (Team BMW) and Chris Smiley (Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com) proved to be exceptions to the rule in terms of tyre choice, and when conditions improved it looked as if the trio had played a masterstroke.
Hill’s Ford Focus was particularly quick as he carved his way back through the order and eventually passed Sutton’s Infiniti Q50 for the lead on lap ten.
Incredibly, no sooner had Hill hit the front that the rain began to fall again on the high-speed Hampshire circuit, giving Sutton the opportunity to come back for the victory in the latter stages.
Hill was now hanging on to second with both Jason Plato (Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing) and Gordon Shedden (Halfords Racing with Cataclean) closing in on the final lap.
The trio went three-wide as the chequered flag fell and it was Plato who had snatched second from Hill by just 0.070s, with Shedden only 0.166s further in arrears.
It was a valiant effort by Kent-based Hill and he was further rewarded with the championship lead following his podium treble during this enthralling season opening weekend at the fastest circuit in the UK.
Daniel Lloyd made it a double top five celebration for Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing, followed by the Team BMW duo of Colin Turkington and Tom Oliphant.
Jack Goff grabbed the best result of the day for the newly built Team HARD Cupras with eighth, whilst Ollie Jackson (MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square) and Stephen Jelley (Team BMW) rounded out the top ten – the latter having led the opening lap of the race before falling down the order on wet tyres.
Hill leads double-winner Josh Cook in the standings by a single point, with series returnee Jason Plato currently third overall.
Ash Sutton said: “I think me and Jake experienced exactly the same thrill there. Like ‘ah no we’ve lost the race’ and then it comes back to you! I think we needed that after today, we deserved some solid results, and to end it on one is perfect.
“Wet or dry, I’ve been really happy with the car’s balance, I was happy with either wet or dry to be honest. But after not a perfect day, to be only ten points behind in the championship is all that matters.”
Jason Plato said: “I really enjoyed that race, there was a lot to think about and I was convinced it was going to rain again so I knew there was a stage in the race where slicks might switch on, but we looked at our radar stuff and thought it was going to rain again.
“I just needed to keep the tyres on the car and not hurt them too much in the early stages and I think my car was great at the end.”
Jake Hill said: “It was crazy! When the slicks were coming on and it was drying up, it was knowing when I could go and how much to push on each lap. It was easier to still commit to the corner as you usually would but then feel the slide gently.
“As it rained at the end, those last few laps fighting with Ash and then Jason got me on the line, it was such hard work to keep it on the road. I was the first person on slicks by a long way in the end and I’m proud of myself and proud of the team, we’ve just done a fantastic job and I can’t believe I’m standings leader!”
2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship – Race 3 – Thruxton
1 Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing 16 laps
2 Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +4.789s
3 Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +4.859s
4 Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +5.025s
5 Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +9.927s
6 Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +10.105s
7 Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +13.212s
8 Jack GOFF (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +14.014s
9 Ollie JACKSON (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +16.377s
10 Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +18.713s
11 Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Team HARD. with HUB Financial Solutions +21.321s
12 Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +24.962s
13 Tom CHILTON (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +25.188s
14 Sam SMELT (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +25.722s
15 Chris SMILEY (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +38.847
16 Rick PARFITT (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +40.064s
17 Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with iQuoto Online Trading +52.655s
18 Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +55.339s
19 Jack BUTEL (GBR) EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +1:04.841s
20 Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +1 lap
21 Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +1 lap
22 Tom INGRAM (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com +1 lap
23 Dan CAMMISH (GBR) BTC Racing +1 lap
24 Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +2 laps
25 Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +2 laps
26 Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +7 laps
27 Jade EDWARDS (GBR) PHSC with BTC Racing +13 laps