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Ash Sutton: ‘We’ve probably got one of the fastest race cars here’

Ash Sutton says starting on the front row of the grid for the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Oulton Park is a ‘mega result’, having qualified just over a tenth of a second behind rival Tom Ingram.

Despite the championship leader having just one second of hybrid boost available per lap in qualifying, he was able to top his group in Q1, end Q2 in third and then challenge for pole in Q3.

The NAPA Racing UK driver thus remains the only driver in the field who has made it through to Q3 in every session of 2024 so far.

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“If somebody said that I would be starting on the front row at the start of the weekend, especially with feeling in the wars with the hayfever and manflu, I would have taken their arm off for that,” said Sutton. “It’s good – really good.

“It’s a mega result for myself and NAPA Racing UK. We’re a quarter of a tenth behind Tom and there’s a two tenth delta there, so ultimately we’ve probably got one of the fastest race cars here. It’s just the hybrid plays in to its effect.

“We’ve been particularly strong in our starts, so if we can battle with Tom at the start then that’s ideal, but I’ve also got two team-mates behind me.

“There’s going to be a bit of pressure, but if I can take the fight to Tom at the start then they will hopefully pick him off as well.”

Sutton downplayed the effect of recent resurfacing work on lap times, which were over six tenths of a second quicker than the previous qualifying lap record for the current generation of cars.

“We’re only seeing the effects of the track surface change at Turn 2 and into the Knickerbrook chicane. The rest of the track is actually the old tarmac when it matters. They’ve retarmacked it in a few straights but that doesn’t affect the cornering speed.

“We were expecting the BMWs to be really punchy this weekend, especially with Jake’s pace, but he didn’t make it through.

“We’ve continued our record of getting into Q3 at every round, so we’ll stick to that.”

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