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Ash Sutton: ‘It’s all about consistency’

NAPA Racing UK’s Ash Sutton enjoyed a ‘really good’ consistent weekend in British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton, picking up three podium finishes to move up to second overall in the drivers’ standings.

Sutton qualified his Motorbase-run Ford Focus ST in fifth on Saturday, with a lap time that the reigning champion felt could have been better – as he felt the potential was there to challenge for pole position.

From fifth on the grid in race one, Sutton made a strong start to move up to third, avoiding an incident immediately behind him which eliminated team-mate Dan Cammish from the race.

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The 28-year-old’s progress then stalled as he failed to take the challenge to the rapid Josh Cook and Jake Hill ahead of him, leaving Sutton to take the chequered flag in third.

Race two was a quiet affair for Sutton, as he gradually fell back from the leading duo but had the pace to keep his podium position relatively unchallenged.

Drawn to start from fifth for the final race of the day, Sutton was immediately up to fourth following a poor start for pole-sitter Jason Plato, before he fought past Daniel Rowbottom for third at Seagrave on the following lap.

Thereafter, Sutton stayed in the final podium place for the rest of the race, keeping close to the leafing BMWs of Adam Morgan and Colin Turkington but not getting close enough to fight for further progression.

“I think it’s the first time I’ve had three thirds all weekend,” said Sutton to TouringCars.Net. “It was good – really, really good.

“I don’t think we quite out-scored Josh overall for the weekend; he stretched his legs there.

“We’ve just focussed on ourselves, on the car and getting it right.”

Whilst Sutton felt he could have extracted more qualifying pace, he ultimately didn’t feel he had the pace to take the fight to Cook for victory on Sunday.

“I felt like we missed out on pole. Even if we had [been on pole] would we have won some races today? I don’t think so.

“I think ultimately Josh has had the race pace on us, but for sure we have developed over those three races in the correct way.”

Sutton explained that he felt his improved race pace at the weekend could be attributed to setup changes he and his engineer Antonio Carrozza had worked on in the run-up to the event.

“We’ve made changes – we’ve developed the car and it’s what me and Tony have always done wherever we’ve gone.

“We’re not going to join a team and just sit static, we want to progress the whole team on. There have been some changes but it seems to worked well.

“It’s helped loads [to build confidence]. Just trying to extract what I want from the car and getting that is what’s giving me the confidence going into Oulton Park and places like that. Hopefully we can keep chipping away and moving in the same direction.

“It’s about consistency – that’s all it is. It’s just ultimately picking up the big points when we’re maybe not at our prime.”

Whilst Sutton, who is now 23 points adrift of series leader Cook, will keep an eye on his rival’s performance, he adds that he is still working with a new car and team whilst Cook has the benefit of stability by being in his fourth year with the same team and car.

“Obviously we’ll keep a close eye on Josh and see what he’s doing and how he’s performing – they’ve got it hooked up down there I’ll give them their dues there.

“I’m yet to know what we’re capable of doing, this is the difference. Josh has been in that car for a few years now and he knows what to expect when he turns up to a meeting.

“We’re entering it a bit unknow. We will be looking closely at him and Tom Ingram, but also keeping an eye on those rear-wheel drive cars as well.”

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