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Ash Sutton: Points lead will make life ‘ten times harder’ at Thruxton

Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Ash Sutton was pleased to come away from Donington Park with the drivers’ standings lead, but admitted carrying maximum ballast at Thruxton will be a real challenge.

Sutton made the most of mixed conditions in qualifying to secure third for race one, and jumped Josh Cook’s hard-tyre shod Honda Civic for second in the opening encounter but was unable to challenge double winner Colin Turkington’s lead.

The 2017 champion then followed suit in the second contest after initially losing out to Tom Oliphant at the start before a late lunge at the Old Hairpin saw him regain the position, but eventually came home third behind Matt Neal’s lighter Honda.

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Another strong points finish followed in the final race, securing fifth at the flag as the second-best hard tyre runner behind Rory Butcher, giving him a three point advantage over erstwhile championship leader Josh Cook in the standings.

“Overall the whole weekend was good, we’ve just been banking points the whole weekend,” Sutton told TouringCars.Net.

“We came here in our minds that if it’s dry, we’re not going to have the ultimate pace.

“So then it’s just right, we just need to grab every point we can – and it’s led us to be leading the championship – but if anything that means nothing right now.

“It just makes our life ten times harder once we come to Thruxton.”

With Sutton usually fighting back with wins towards the tail end of the season, he admitted this year already has a different dynamic to it, but feels “lady luck” also played a part in that with a number of sessions run in mixed conditions.

“For the past three years we’ve come out fighting, trying to get points at the start of the year, and it hasn’t happened,” he said.

“This weekend a lot of luck has fallen our way in terms of qualifying, and we’ve just made the most of that luck.

“And it’s just led us to standing here now talking to you with 70 points in the bag and leading the championship.

“You’ve just got to take these things as they come. You always turn up to the track wanting to win, the same as everyone else. A bit of lady luck this year paid off.”

With the new BMW 3 Series having taken half of the race wins in 2019 so far, and Tom Ingram’s new Toyota Corolla scoring its first win in race three at Donington, Sutton admits the new machinery will only get stronger as the develop throughout the season.

In contrast, he feels the maximum potential has now been extracted from his Subaru Levorg, with straight-line speed still being the weak point of the package.

“For sure they’re going to pick up the pace, but there’s not much more to find in that Subaru,” Sutton said.

“The boys have done a huge amount of work behind the scenes over the winter, and I’m struggling to find anything extra.

“Chassis-wise it is spot on. Aerodynamics-wise it’s as good as it can be, bearing in mind it’s an estate.

“So it just leaves one thing and we have to focus on that.”

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