Laser Tools Racing’s Ash Sutton believes his strong qualifying result for the 2020 British Touring Car Championship season finale at Brands Hatch takes some pressure off in terms of battle for the championship.
The Infiniti racer was sat on provisional pole for the duration of the half-hour session, but would lose out after the penultimate red flag period in which first Rory Butcher and then Tom Ingram improved to line up on the front row of the grid.
With an incident for Carl Boardley at Paddock Hill Bend then ending the session early, the 2017 champion was unable to take advantage of the better track conditions in the dying minutes of the session.
Despite losing out on pole position, Sutton was positive about the result and cited his qualifying disaster at Croft as a worst case scenario that he was keen to avoid despite feeling there was still time “left on the table” on an ideal lap.
“We were caught out with that last red flag, we couldn’t respond to what Tom and Rory had put in. Obviously we were sitting pretty for about 75% of it so I’m really happy,” said Sutton.
“There’s a little bit left on the table, I didn’t want to be the driver again like at Croft where I went off, caused a red flag and lost my best lap.
“So there’s a little bit left on the table, we put in a good lap, we’re in a good position, unfortunately we just didn’t get to respond to Tom and Rory.”
Notoriously enjoying the wet conditions, Sutton admitted he felt in his “comfort zone” amid the changeable grip levels as rain fell intermittently across the session, keeping his Infiniti Q50 clean while many others had incidents and off-track excursions.
With his main title rival Colin Turkington only managing eighth position, he admitted the qualifying result took “a little bit of pressure” off in terms of the championship battle as there are multiple cars in between them and he can focus on running his own race in the opener tomorrow.
“I’m in my element, I absolutely love the wet. Whatever car, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, it’s my favourite,” he said.
“I feel at home, there’s a little bit of pressure for me taking off because obviously going against Colin in the BMW is hard, but I feel much more in my comfort zone when it comes to the wet.”
The first of three British Touring Car Championship races at Brands Hatch is scheduled to get underway tomorrow [15 November] at 10:00 BST.