Ash Sutton hopes Team BMR can use pole position for the British Touring Car Championship triple-header at Croft this weekend [23-24 June] to re-invigorate their fortunes.
The reigning champion put in a best lap of 1:24.222 seconds to edge out Jason Plato in the sister Subaru Levorg GT in the Buntingford-based outfit’s best showing of 2018 to date.
Their performance had been evident during practice and qualifying, with one of the duo now favourites to take victory in the first of three races at the 2.1 mile Yorkshire circuit tomorrow.
However, the 2015 Renault UK Clio Cup Champion feels the gap to those behind – in this instance the BMW 1-series of Andrew Jordan and Sam Tordoff’s Ford Focus RS – should have been greater than two tenths of a second.
“I think coming into this weekend we were going to be better off – a lot of effort has gone into this meeting, but in theory, if you think about the facts and statistics – we should be on pole,” explained Sutton to TouringCars.net after qualifying.
“We’re ballast free on a rear-wheel drive track, we’ve made improvements – the car is good – it’s my favourite track, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t [be quickest].
“Obviously it is fantastic, but I don’t think there’s a big enough delta back to the guys that do have the weight.”
The team have run several improvements including a revised front aerodynamic package this weekend, but Sutton played down it’s contribution, with NGTC cars notoriously aerodynamic-lite.
TouringCars.net also understands the team have been given a marginal boost increase by series organisers TOCA.
“It’s not helping a huge amount, these cars [NGTC] aren’t massively aerodynamic through the corners. Obviously there have been a few changes from the team’s point of view and they’ve played a big part in us taking a step forward this weekend” said Sutton.
When asked whether BMR’s improvements would translate as effectively to other, non-RWD favoured circuits, Sutton was optimistic but believes the next event at Snetterton in July will provide a clearer picture.
“I would like to think so, but until we get to Snetterton [we won’t know]. It’s a different circuit, we may have a little bit more weight by then, it’s not a rear-wheel drive track, suddenly our chances start to thin out.”
He wouldn’t go as far as to say the team needs to re-evaluate it’s aims and objectives at each remaining event on a case-by-case basis, however.
“Yes and no. Maybe just for Snetterton, and then we’ll have a better understanding. I would like to think that we can carry this momentum, fingers crossed we can get some results and points out of this tomorrow, I think we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Both Sutton and Plato are understandably keen to claim their first victories of the campaign, but no conversations about race-start tactics have been held between the pairing just yet.
“No chats have been had yet, we’re just enjoying the success at the minute and we’ll worry about that tomorrow when we’ve woken up on a different note.” concluded Sutton.
The opening race gets underway at 12:05 BST tomorrow.