THRUXTON RECAP: ROUND 17
SUTTON STROLLS TO RACE TWO VICTORY
Laser Tools Racing’s Ash Sutton scored a smooth and calculated victory in Round 17 of the 2021 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship as the reigning title-holder picked his way through the field from fifth on the grid.
Having shed much of its success ballast from the opening contest at Thruxton, the #1 Infiniti immediately came alive in the second bout and by lap four Sutton was relinquishing Team BMW’s Tom Oliphant of second place.
Sutton gradually hauled his car towards the escaping Josh Cook – who was also driving beautifully with maximum ballast onboard his BTC Racing Honda – and the battle was soon on for victory.
Cook made his good friend work for the win, but on lap 11 of 16, Sutton squeezed by as the duo approached turn one and the deal was done.
“Obviously we sat there in the morning and put a plan together,” confirmed Sutton. “Going for a win in race two is always key, Cookie didn’t make it too easy, but I wouldn’t let him have two out of two!
“I’ll be honest with you, [Josh] made it hard at the beginning. We were pushing for fastest lap but he locked that in. Once I got past Tom, I settled in for a couple of laps and the gap stayed the same, we realised where we were strong and that’s where we were able to close him down. He’s a great racer, if you look back at us at Brands Hatch a couple of years ago, we have a great battle all the time.”
Sutton’s supreme performance ensured the reigning champ extended his standings lead, whilst second place and fastest lap was somewhat consolation for Cook.
“We didn’t quite have the pace to stick with Ash,” said Cook. “But I’m pleased for the team to come away with P1 in the first race and P2 in the second. It was tough, like someone had hooked a trailer up with a load of weight in it. It wasn’t easy coming off the slow-speed corners and that was where Ash was just mega. I couldn’t even live with him, but that was for the team.
“Obviously there’s a lot of quick drivers on the grid, but me and Ash race really well together. It doesn’t usually matter who it is if someone’s battling you, but it’s nice to know that, if I’m getting into a bit of a dog fight with Ash, we always leave each other that little bit of room. I tried to hang on to it, but as soon as he pulled alongside me I knew it was game over: that’s the move done. I tried to stick with him, which was a bit tricky, but I think he was just playing with us really – he had a lot of pace in that car.”
Oliphant continued an impressive day in Hampshire, securing a podium double as he held off MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Jake Hill.
“Ash is a very quick driver in a very quick car, and he’s always done well around here,” said Oliphant. “I could see him carving his way through. He was the threat, I spoke at quite some length with my team about him and he did a great manoeuvre and then again on Josh, it was pointless fighting that. So then I just tried to get behind him, tried to follow and unfortunately with my [success ballast] it just wasn’t possible.
“Absolutely over the moon. Coming into the weekend, it really doesn’t suit our car. But to get two third places and fifth on the grid against all these other cars that probably have a slight advantage around this track is mega. My engineers and the team at WSR have done a brilliant job so I’m really really pleased.”
The fight for fifth was an enthralling one as Tom Ingram endured last lap heartbreak when a puncture ruined his hard work.
The Ginsters EXCELR8 with TradePriceCars.com man had spent almost the entire race hounding the manufacturer-backed Toyota of Rory Butcher – the pair seemingly so often fighting for position on track during the season.
Ingram lined the move up through the complex on lap 13, completing the attempt on the run out of Segrave Corner as Team BMW’s Colin Turkington also nipped by Butcher.
It was a tense moment as the three cars charged towards Noble and Goodwood at high speed as Butcher battled his way back past the BMW.
Ingram looked to have the position won but a puncture at Church – the fastest corner in British motorsport – on the final tour handed the place back to Butcher, whilst Turkington took sixth.
BTC Racing’s Senna Proctor and Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport’s Adam Morgan were seventh and eighth respectively and subsequently lined up on the front row for the day’s final contest.
The Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing duo of Jason Plato and Daniel Lloyd were almost inseparable throughout the race and eventually rounded out the top ten positions.
Team Halfords with Cataclean had a disastrous encounter as both Daniel Rowbottom and Gordon Shedden failed to finish. The two Honda stars were expected to have competitive outings at Thruxton, but car gremlins put paid to those ambitions in the opening two races.
Check back tomorrow to relive all the action from the closing contest on the 2.37-mile circuit, and check out the race highlights clip from ITV below.