TITLE TRIUMPH TOPS ‘GREAT YEAR’ FOR LASER TOOLS RACING
Brands Hatch’s nail-biting Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship finale set the scene for ultimate triumph for Laser Tools Racing almost four weeks ago (23/24 October) as the West Lothian-based squad secured a quartet of titles to end the 2021 campaign on a high.
Leading light Ash Sutton headed to the Kent circuit topping the Drivers’ Standings and with the aim to retain his championship crown for a second consecutive year, having adopted a more measured and consistent approach to the title battle in 2021, but with four rivals in mathematical contention, the pressure was on.
Qualifying on Saturday saw Sutton and team-mate Aiden Moffat start strong, but as the front-wheel drive machinery came to the fore, the pair dropped out of the top ten. The final ten minutes of the session became a sprint to move up the order and the team threw everything at it, putting Sutton into P6 and Moffat seventh on the grid, while stablemate Carl Boardley took 27th during a difficult session.
Sunday’s opening race saw Sutton take a tactical approach, working to keep his points advantage intact by maintaining his sixth place starting position throughout the encounter, despite title rival Colin Turkington on his heels.
Moffat, who had lost a place to the BMW driver on the opening lap, held eighth to the flag, while Boardley made his way up to P22, as the 45-year-old struggled to find the optimum set up.
It was a second sixth-place finish in race two, as the 27-year-old once again took a measured approach, securing enough points to provisionally claim the Drivers’ title in the penultimate round of the 2021 campaign.
A less fortunate affair for Moffat saw the Scotsman involved in a skirmish with another driver which caused damage sufficient to send him to the pit lane. Returning to the action with a new wheel and tyre, the #16 Infiniti would take 22nd at the end of the 18-lap contest.
Boardley would fair better during the encounter, moving up from 22nd on the grid into the points with 15th – his ninth points-finish of the campaign.
The gloves came off in race three as the reverse grid draw put Sutton’s #1 machine fourth on the grid. The Hertfordshire racer rocketed off the line, taking second place before the end of the opening tour, and would steal the lead from Team BMW’s Stephen Jelley on lap three, holding the position from an attacking Dan Rowbottom for the rest of the contest.
His team-mates would endure a more challenging race, with Boardley forced to retire on the opening lap, while Moffat was into the points by lap two before dropping down the order. A four-lap safety car period hampered the 25-year-old’s recovery from the back of the pack, but he began his attack on lap ten, working his way up to 18th.
Sutton’s race three triumph marked his fifth victory of the season and also his 50th career podium in Britain’s premier motorsport series, as he continues his pursuit of record-breaking glory.
The squad’s efforts throughout the campaign were rewarded with Teams’ and Independent Teams’ honours, as well as Sutton’s Drivers’ and Independents’ crowns.
“We’ve worked so hard and changed how we approach a year and it’s paid off massively,” said Sutton. “To have done it with one race to spare is absolutely phenomenal. I’ve had a fantastic crew behind me all year, and fantastic sponsors with Laser Tools and it just couldn’t have been any better.
“This year’s racing has been very close. But we’ve got a very well-engineered car in terms of carrying this ballast and that’s played a big part.
“Obviously, race three was so good and the best way to send [the campaign] off. I could have the handcuffs off and do what I wanted to do, and it was absolutely phenomenal!”
“What a season it has been,” said Boardley. “I want to thank all of my sponsors for making this possible for me, and a huge thank you Laser Tools Racing for all the hard work of everyone on the team.”
“A great year for me and Laser Tools Racing,” said Moffat. “It was a shame to end the season like that after finishing eighth in race one. It wasn’t the weekend we wanted and we had a lot of pace that we didn’t get to make the most of, but it’s been a great year and I can’t thank the team and sponsors enough.”