SUTTON: “WHAT A WEEKEND!”
Ashley Sutton extended his lead at the summit of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship to 14 points at Knockhill this past weekend (14/15 August) after scoring an impressive third win of the campaign.
In addition to fourth and fifth-place finishes, the Laser Tools Racing driver charged to a famous victory in race two around the Fife venue after forcing title rival Colin Turkington into a minor error on the last lap.
Coming off the back of a bruising weekend at Oulton Park last time out, the reigning champion made the annual trip north of the border with his sights set on the fight at the front of the grid.
Battling the after-effects of food poisoning throughout Saturday, the reigning champion emerged as one of the leading lights in qualifying as he dug deep to produce a sensational lap.
Despite being ladened with 75kg of success ballast, the current titleholder set a lap time less than two-tenths of a second away from pole position to secure sixth on the grid for the opening contest.
Fighting fit on Sunday, the BRDC Superstar wasted no time in moving forward as he opted to run the medium tyre. Holding his ground during the early stages, Sutton came to the fore as the race wore on and the Infiniti was soon making progress as he completed an impressive pass on Chris Smiley.
Latching onto the back of his good friend and third-place man Josh Cook, Sutton hounded the Honda driver in the final laps but was unable to find a way past, settling for fourth as the chequered flag fell.
Shedding weight and bolting the soft tyre on for race two, the 27-year-old was up into second place from fourth by lap nine and then began his pursuit of race leader Turkington.
Drawing closer and closer to the BMW driver as the laps ticked by, Sutton piled on the pressure until Turkington took too much kerb through the chicane and ran wide on the final tour, opening the door for him to take the lead and power on to victory.
Starting what was a frenetic reverse grid contest from ninth, Sutton rounded off his weekend in Scotland with another sensational drive. Once again carrying maximum ballast, the former Jack Sears Trophy winner hustled his way up the order to finish fifth.
As well as extending his lead in the BTCC Drivers’ Championship, Sutton has also strengthened his advantage in the BTCC Independent Drivers’ Championship.
“What a weekend!” proclaimed Sutton. “Considering I wasn’t feeling too great on Saturday I’m over the moon to have come away with another win and more importantly, extended our lead at the top of the standings.
“Colin [Turkington] had mega pace all weekend but going into race two I knew that we would have the upper hand given the difference in weight. Once I got into second it was all about getting my head down, firing in qualifying laps and piling on the pressure.
“When he made that small mistake, I was straight in there, I didn’t need a second invitation. It’s always great racing with someone like Colin as there is that mutual respect; you leave room, you squeeze each other but it’s all fair – that’s my style of racing.
“Scoring a fourth and fifth was the cherry on top of a great weekend. As always, the guys and girls at Laser Tools Racing have done a mega job and that win is for them. We’re back to Thruxton next and the aim is to hopefully build on our lead.”
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is next in action on 28/29 August, when the series returns to the fastest circuit in the UK, Thruxton, for Rounds 16, 17 and 18 of the 2021 campaign.