Ash Sutton left the penultimate race weekend of the British Touring Car Championship having ‘exceeded’ his target championship lead, including scoring one of his ‘best-ever’ victories in the series.
The three-time champion went into the weekend with a 41 point lead over Tom Ingram, and left with a 45-point advantage over his rival, having claimed a win and a third after a point-less finish in the rain-affected opening race of the day.
Sutton had qualified his Ford Focus in fifth on Saturday, less than a tenth of a second from pole, despite having no hybrid allocation to use around the Silverstone National circuit.
But in Sunday’s opening race, rain before the start of the race threw Sutton’s plans up in the air. With an eye on rival Ingram’s decisions, Sutton stayed out on dry tyres in slippery conditions, before making a pitstop later than most to change to wet rubber.
That left him, along with Ingram, a lap down and unable to recover to score any points by the time the chequered flag flew.
In race two, Sutton put in one of the drives of his career, scything through the field from 23rd on the grid, making almost a pass a lap, to take the lead from Árón Taylor-Smith on the final tour, sealing his tenth win of the season.
It is also marks the lowest grid position from which Sutton has won a race and the second-lowest position from which anyone has won a BTCC race.
Sutton then drew the top 12 to be reversed for race three, and again put in a determined drive to third, making up nine places and finishing behind Ingram on the podium.
“It’s been a real rollercoaster of a weekend but I’m over the moon to be coming out the other side of it with a 45-point lead,” said Sutton.
“Coming into Silverstone I had a number in mind that I wanted to leave with and its fair to say we’ve exceeded that!
“On Saturday we struggled with the balance of the car in practice but we hooked up a pretty good lap – especially as we didn’t have any hybrid – in qualifying to stick it on the third row. We made the car a bit looser for race day and that certainly helped us.
“In hindsight, we made the wrong call in race one as we should have switched to wets on the grid but we were focused on shadowing Tom. After race one we had our backs up against the wall but we certainly turned it around!
“Race two is up there as one of my best-ever drives in the BTCC. We maximised having a full allocation of hybrid and just got cracking on working our way through the field. The car felt incredible and I was able to just put it wherever I wanted; that one was very special.
“There’s less than two weeks to go now until Brands so we’ll do our homework like always and see what happens. Surviving race one and scoring points is the target; then we’ll see how the day plays out from there. We’re in a really strong position but the job is by no means done!”