Rob Austin wins the Brands finale, at Ash Sutton secures title
Rob Austin secured the first win for Handy Motorsport in the BTCC, while Team BMR’s Ash Sutton won the championship on the second lap, after West Surrey Racing’s Colin Turkington was forced to retire with damage.
Michael Epps had started the race from pole position in the Team HARD Volkswagen Golf and was able to hold off Rob Austin’s Toyota into the first corner, but Austin was able to get past him two corners later at Graham Hill, while all eyes were further back as championship protagonists Turkington and Sutton were waking their way forward.
The rain had started in wet conditions, with light rain having doused the circuit for over ten minutes. The bulk of the field had opted for wet tyres with a few exceptions near the back of the pack.
Turkington was already up to sixth at the end of lap one after starting tenth, with Sutton right on his tail, but his championship was unravelled at Graham Hill bend, when Speedworks driver Tom Ingram nudged Motorbase’s Mat Jackson wide at the corner, with Jackson rejoining and clipping Turkington’s right-rear, breaking the 125i M Sport’s suspension.
Turkington drove straight into the pits to retire, with Sutton confirmed as the champion, while the safety car was deployed on lap three after Power Maxed Racing’s Senna Proctor went off at Druids in his Vauxhall Astra.
When the race resumed, Austin began to pull away from Epps’ Volkswagen, while Sutton worked his way forward and was up to fourth by lap, passing new independents’ champion Tom Ingram.
One lap later, and Eurotech Racing’s Jack Goff as well as Sutton both passed Epps’ Volkswagen at Druids, with Ingram also passing the CC driver on lap 14.
Austin pulled over a four second lead, dropping back to three seconds on the final lap to take his first win since Rockingham 2014, and the first for Handy Motorsport, on the team’s swansong with the Toyota Avensis before they switch to Alfa Romeo next year.
With Turkington out, Sutton was confirmed as the 2017 drivers’ champion, in his second season in the BTCC, the first title for Team BMR and Subaru in the championship.
“Oh my God. I’m lost for words,” said Sutton. “It’s been a great team effort. Thanks to everyone at Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, It’s a dream come true and thanks to everyone for the support and thanks for believing in me.”
The 2018 BTCC gets underway at Brands Hatch again on April 8th.