Ash Sutton believes he and WestCoast Racing are in good shape for the final TCR Europe race at Barcelona tomorrow after a positive debut.
The 2017 British Touring Car Champion duelled with FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) title contender Norbert Michelisz in the opening exchanges, initially passing the Hungarian fans’ favourite for fifth.
Though Michelisz would re-take the position, Sutton still pulled off a decisive move on Mikel Azcona’s CUPRA to take fourth, denying the Spaniard the title – for now.
Speaking to TouringCars.net at the Circuit de Catalunya, Sutton admitted it took a few laps to work out where the Volkswagen Golf GTI was strong compared to it’s rivals, but after that it was a case of getting his head down and making some moves.
“I think in the first few laps we were just trying to work everyone out and if we had the race pace, because in practice you don’t really get an indication of what everyone is doing,” explained Sutton.
“It became apparent that we were quite strong, but by the time I’d started to push on, the safety car came out and hindered that a little bit.
“It probably wasn’t until about halfway in that I really worked out where we were strong and made the most of that, catching a few people out and pulling some good moves.”
He also said that racing alongside some of the continent’s best touring car talents, though a pleasure, didn’t faze him on his first competitive outing overseas.
“All the guys here are good, fair racers, it was nice and clean up at the front. It’s nice to be involved, but they’re just names and stickers on windows to me, so it doesn’t mean much.”
Looking ahead to the season finale at 15:55 CEST tomorrow, Sutton says damage after contact with Michelisz damaged the steering and tow of the VW, and believes with a few changes the car should be at the sharp end again tomorrow from fifth on the grid.
“WestCoast Racing gave me a really good car and it gave me the confidence to push, the Volkswagen Golf was mega. But halfway through we picked up a little bit of damage after contact on both sides with Michelisz, it put our steering and tow a little bit out.
“But for tomorrow’s race we’ll get the damage fixed, make a few changes and have a good stab at it.”