Ashley Sutton ‘reaped the rewards’ of speed and fortune in the British Touring Car Championship races at Silverstone, as the Laser Tools Racing driver held on to his points lead.
With the maximum 60 kg of ballast in qualifying, Sutton hauled his Infiniti to seventh on the grid for race one, although title rival Colin Turkington managed to better him by three places.
In Sunday’s first race, Sutton made good progress in the opening laps and was up to fifth by the mid-stage of the race, which is ultimately where he finished after being unable to find a way past Turkington’s BMW.
Race two should have seen further gains for the 26-year-old, but a lock up and contact with Motorbase’s Rory Butcher on the first lap meant that a puncture would follow later in the race, by which time Sutton had dropped back to the fringe of the top ten.
From 26th on the grid for the final race of the day, Sutton put on a charge worthy of a champion. He was up into the top 20 by the end of the first lap, and was in the points when the race was halted for a huge shunt for Butcher.
When the race restarted, Sutton lined up in 14th and continued his charge, working his way up to second by the end of the race, trying but ultimately failing to find a way past eventual winner Ollie Jackson for the lead.
After the race, Sutton was given a time penalty for gaining an unfair advantage, dropping him to third but still keeping the points lead he had regained after earlier losing it in race two.
“As I’ve said before, anything can happen in the BTCC and I think Silverstone has proven just that,” said Sutton.
“Things didn’t look great after race two, but we threw everything at in race three and reaped the rewards to come away still leading the points.
“Seventh in qualifying wasn’t too bad considering we had a few little issues and race one was all about banking some points and putting myself in a position to get some weight out of the car, which we did.
“In race two I locked up heading into Becketts and from then on it was a matter of when and not if the tyre would go.”
Sutton leaves Silverstone with a slender four-point lead at the top of the championship standings thanks to his drive in race three.
“Getting the weight out of the car transformed everything, it was phenomenal. I can’t get over how good the car felt.
“That last race was by far the best race of my career so far. To start at the back of a BTCC grid and get to the podium is very rare.
“A lot of things fell our way, with the re-grid and the restart, as well as a few people getting caught out by the oil too. I just took every opportunity that presented itself and went for it.
“We now head to Croft, a circuit I love, with a small lead so we will see how things play out there. We’re getting towards the business end of the season now so every point will be crucial.”