Team WRT’s Ash Sutton says it feels “nice to have another shot” at TCR Europe as he returns to the series this weekend behind the wheel of a WRT-run Volkswagen at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
The 2017 British Touring Car champion, who competed in the final TCR Europe round in Barcelona to cap off last season, makes his debut at the iconic Belgian circuit this weekend.
Sutton qualified fourth for race one but will start from third after Dan Lloyd’s Honda was demoted to 18th after competing illegitimately in the second part of qualifying.
He told TouringCars.Net he is thoroughly enjoying the experience, despite carrying the extra weight because of his late entry and the common ECU he has onboard his Volkswagen Golf GTI.
“It’s good to have another shot at it, but it’s a shame we’ve got so much ballast onboard,” said Sutton. “Obviously with the CE ECU that we’re running as well, it all adds up.
“It’s my first time actually driving here, I had a big old moment in qualifying through Eau Rouge, so a change of underwear was needed!
“But it lives up to its expectations, that’s for sure. The track is fantastic, the facility is good.
“The whole championship is great, it’s very inviting, and WRT and Volkswagen have made this happen so it’s perfect.”
With Sutton just five points adrift of the standings lead in his full-season BTCC campaign, he admits it will be nice to just focus on securing silverware at Spa, but is not underestimating his opposition.
“Silverware would be nice, don’t get me wrong, but I’m just going to be realistic that the front boys in the Audis are very, very quick,” he said.
“I don’t think that it’s the strongest for our shape of car for sure, but you know me.
“I’ll always have a race if I can, but we’re here to do a job.”
Sutton has enjoyed ample front-wheel drive experience before racing his rear-wheel drive Subaru Levorg in the BTCC, so he believes “switching that mentality” has become a smoother process than for most drivers.
“It is nice to be back in a front-wheel drive car. The jump between the two, you have to give yourself a session to just think OK I’m driving one of these again,” Sutton explained.
“When it goes sideways you put your foot down and not lift off! That’s what pulled me out of that moment at Eau Rouge, if it was rear-wheel drive it might have been a different story!
“I’m quite quick at switching that mentality in my mind so I don’t mind switching between the two. It just opens up what I can do as a driver, so it’s quite nice to show that.”
The opening race of the weekend for TCR Europe at Spa-Francorchamps is set to get underway at 13:50 CEST [12:50 BST].