Driver Spotlight: Ash Sutton
Like most, Ash Sutton (NAPA Racing UK) began his career in karts, claiming several titles as he rose rapidly through the ranks. Progressing on to single-seaters, he finished fourth in the 2010 Formula Vee Championship, snaring Rookie of the Year honours for good measure.
Following three years away from the track, Sutton wound up third in the 2014 British Formula Ford Championship on the TOCA package, prior to switching to tin-tops in 2015. Running in the Team BMR stable with Team Pyro, he won six races and took 14 podiums as he clinched the Renault UK Clio Cup crown.
Sutton graduated to the BTCC in 2016 with Triple Eight Racing, driving an MG6. His first season in the championship was a fruitful one as he garnered a race win and a couple of impressive pole positions on his way to a poignant Jack Sears Trophy triumph in the year of the inaugural champion’s passing.
For the 2017 campaign, Sutton switched to Adrian Flux Subaru Racing and rear-wheel drive. A joint-high of six race wins and nine further podium finishes saw him over the line to seal a first BTCC title in only his second season – the youngest man to become champion since way back in 1966. Sutton overcame a pressure-cooker final weekend battle with double champion Colin Turkington to take the honours.
2018 wouldn’t go the same way, however, despite a chart-topping six race victories once again. Early-season consistency was lacking from his Subaru – a situation that was repeated throughout the following campaign as the 2017 champion managed just a single race win.
Sutton joined Aiden Moffat at Laser Tools Racing in 2020, embracing new challenges in the Infiniti Q50. Adding to his points tally in 26 of the 27 rounds of the campaign, Sutton’s consistency throughout the season saw him rewarded with a second overall BTCC title and the Independents’ crown, having taken the title battle down to the final race.
Sticking with the team in 2021, the Hertfordshire racer would visit the rostrum on nine occasions and, with 27 top ten finishes during the 30-round campaign, Sutton’s consistent and measured approach to the title battle proved more than warranted when he attained an unassailable points lead with one race remaining.
The three-time champion made the move to NAPA Racing UK ahead of 2022, with his #1 Ford Focus ST emblazoned with gold Kwik Fit plates in his championship defending season. Sutton only finished outside the points-paying positions on two occasions, taking three wins across the year. Heading into the finale, Sutton sat third in the title battle, and would conclude the year an impressive second place, beating title rival Jake Hill by just one point.
Going into 2023, Sutton had his eyes on the prize from the beginning. Teaming up with NAPA Racing UK once again he set out in his Ford Focus ST to re-claim the BTCC title from Tom Ingram (BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8).
After a tremendously consistent campaign, Sutton snatched a total of 12 wins, 20 podiums and six pole positions. By the time the Brands Hatch finale came around only Ingram was left to challenge Sutton for the title. Despite his best efforts, he could not close the gap Sutton had built over the course of the season and the NAPA Racing UK driver claimed the Drivers’ Championship at the end of Race 1.
Sutton also contributed towards NAPA Racing UK having secured nine out of the ten possible pole positions and taking the Constructors’/Manufacturers’ championship, beating main rivals Team BMW. He now equals Colin Turkington (Team BMW) and Andy Rouse with the most BTCC Championship wins in history.