SUTTON RETAINS BTCC POINTS LEAD DESPITE LUCKLESS OULTON PARK WEEKEND
Ash Sutton remains on top of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship standings despite enduring what proved to be a luckless fourth event of the season at Oulton Park this past weekend (31 July/1 August).
The Laser Tools Racing driver found himself in the thick of an action-packed race day, picking up a small number of points in races one and two before being forced to retire from the reverse grid contest after picking up damage.
Arriving at the Cheshire venue carrying 75kg of success ballast, the reigning champion produced a superlative lap at the wheel of his heavy Infiniti Q50 on Saturday to set the tenth-fastest time in qualifying.
Launching off the fifth row of the grid for the initial encounter, Sutton’s race day was dealt its first blow on the opening lap as he was pushed onto the grass as the field streamed through Cascades.
Forced to make a quick visit to the pits and dropping to the back of the pack, a red flag at mid-distance brought proceedings to a halt and the #1 Infiniti driver back into the mix.
With the restart playing out over a six-lap shootout, the 27-year-old produced one of his now famous overtaking masterclasses to scythe his way up the order to 14th, netting a handful of points.
Sutton made further progress in race two as climbed up the order to eighth, putting himself into contention for the reverse grid draw.
Drawn onto the outside of the front row for the final bout and with the soft tyre bolted on his rear-wheel-drive machine, hopes were high that the BRDC Superstar could cap his day off with a solid points haul.
Unfortunately, Sutton’s race day came to an early end. With a red flag stopping the race at the first time of asking due to a multi-car incident, the restart proved to be just as dramatic as the former Jack Sears Trophy winner launched an attack for the lead.
Running side-by-side with former team-mate and friend Senna Proctor through turn one, Sutton was spun down the order and despite recovering, additional contact at Cascades ended his race on the spot.
At the end of a frenetic weekend, Sutton has extended his lead at the summit of the BTCC Drivers’ Championship to five points whilst also maintaining his advantage in the BTCC Independent Drivers’ Championship as well.
“We’ve somehow managed to come away with a five-point lead however I’m really not sure how,” admitted Sutton. “Luck wasn’t on our side on race day but that seemed to be the case for a few others.
“Had I not had such a messy race one then the day could have panned out differently. We managed to salvage a few points following the restart and then in race two I was able to make my way further forward once again, although not as far as I’d have liked.
“When we got drawn onto the front row for the reverse grid race it looked like we had salvaged something good, but it all kicked off and I ended up watching from the sidelines.
“Once again the guys and girls at Laser Tools Racing have given me a phenomenal car all weekend. We’re still leading the championship and I’ll head to Knockhill ready to keep on pushing!
“Finally, I want to send my thoughts and condolences to the family and friends of the volunteer marshal that tragically lost their life at Brands Hatch on Saturday. The motorsport community is a tight-knit one and without the orange army we wouldn’t be able to go racing.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship heads north of the border next for the annual visit to Knockhill on 14/15 August.