Ash Sutton, Josh Cook enjoy final flourish

Former team-mates Ash Sutton and Josh Cook admitted they had enjoyed the frenetic battle that ended with them almost dead-heating in the final race of the BTCC season at Brands Hatch.

Cook had led for most of the race at the wheel of his Power Maxed Racing-run Vauxhall Astra but found himself under increasing pressure as the laps wore down from former MG partner Sutton – who was recovering through the pack from a poor start in his Subaru Levorg.

The outgoing champion had tried a number of times to find a way through before a daring move around the outside into the final corner saw the pair go side-by-side in the run to the line.

Despite being forced to go the long way round, it was Sutton who crossed the line just 0.032s ahead to wrap up his sixth win of the year and bring his time as champion to an end on a high.

“It’s been a tough season for us,” he said. “It would have been nice to be in the mix coming to Brands Hatch but it wasn’t to be, and the focus then was on trying to end the year on a high.

“Things didn’t start too well on race day but we came through in race two and were well placed on the grid for race three but I didn’t get a good start for some reason and had work to do.

“I’ll be honest that I didn’t think the win was possible with Josh as every card I dealt, he showed a good one back. I could see what he was doing into the final corner and managed to get alongside and tried to use the side draft. That time, it worked for me.”

Cook for his part admitted it has been one of his most enjoyable races of the season, even with his good friend having prevented him from taking to the top step of the podium for the third time this season.

“That was a proper race and one of the cleanest I’ve had,” he said. “It was just brilliant and I’m gutted that he managed to get us at the end.

“I could see where he was and that he was going to have to go the long way round. I was flat out but I could see him creeping up alongside me and as we got to the line, he got me. At the end of the day though, that was a mega race to be part of and it’s great to go into the winter on a high from being involved in a battle like that, even though it’s a shame we weren’t on the top step.

“Overall, it’s been a good year for us. We’ve ended the season with more wins that Colin [Turkington] and had it not been for some bad luck, then we could have been involved in the title battle. There are others who can say the same, and those are just the cards we have been dealt, but I think that with the performance we have shown this season, we can look to come back even stronger next year.”