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Ash Sutton was “on the limit” to secure fourth row start with maximum ballast

Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Ash Sutton said he was “on the limit” during his fastest qualifying effort for the British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, securing seventh position despite carrying maximum ballast.

Sutton’s Subaru Levorg carries the 54kg by virtue of leading the championship standings, and was aiming for a top ten heading into the half-hour session at the Hampshire circuit.

The 2017 champion described the late red flag as a “godsend” as it allowed him to run fresh tyres and tweak the setup of his Subaru, still to set a representative time after having his best time removed due to track limit infrigements.

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“That was on the limit, I don’t think there was much left on the table there,” Sutton told TouringCars.Net. “It’s the first time we’ve pieced all the sectors together on one lap and we’ve definitely achieved what we wanted.

“We were aiming for the top ten so to be P7, we’re really really happy with that.

“[The track limits] got us twice and that hurt. I got a 16 flat in and thought ‘OK, I’ve done what I need to do’ and then get that taken away so that’s a kick in the backside that’s for sure.

“But in some ways the red flag was a godsend because it gave me a chance to reset, put another set of tyres on. We made a few changes in the car and it was mega for that last run.”

Sutton’s points-scoring consistency and pace in mixed conditions have brought him to the fore early in the season. Photo: PSP Images

Sutton was particularly pleased with his grid slot as he did not expect Thruxton to suit the Subaru, which notoriously struggles for top-end speed due to the estate shape.

That, coupled with carrying full championship ballast made Sutton’s life difficult, but he believes he needs to focus on factors within his control.

“The weight only really comes into play when you’re stopping and starting – so the chicanes. Once you get up to speed and you’ve got the momentum going it’s not a huge issue,” he explained.

“Obviously everyone knows the situation, we’ve not got the best car in a straight line. Aerodynamically and performance-wise, but we’ll just keep ticking away because that’s something we can’t do much about.

“We’ve just got to keep working on the bits we can control.”

In the first encounter, Sutton aims to capitalise on the rear-wheel drive launch at the start, and believes “damage limitation” in terms of results will be key.

“I want to nick a place at the start line and then just try to get stuck in from then on and just try to gain some more points and keep adding to the chart,” said Sutton.

“We knew this wasn’t going to be our strongest place, so it’s just a case of damage limitation.”

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