2017 BTCC champion Ash Sutton: “Volkswagen deserved better than P6”

Ash Sutton believes there was more pace in his WestCoast Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in qualifying for the TCR Europe series finale at Barcelona, despite lining up sixth on the grid for Race 1.

The 2017 BTCC champion struck a late deal to race with the Swedish outfit this weekend and set the second quickest time in the opening segment of qualifying.

But Sutton, who also raced to two victories in TCR UK earlier in the year driving a Honda Civic Type R FK8, bemoaned the lack of fresh tyres for Q2 and feels he could have ended up higher on the grid.

“I think the biggest thing people probably forget is that we’ve got an extra 20kg from what we should have, being a first time driver here, and limited tyre availability,” Sutton told TouringCarTimes.

“We don’t have that access to carry over from previous races and things like that, so it means that we had to sacrifice four new tyres at the start of the weekend. That only hinders you from FP2. But when we did have that set of new tyres, we put it P2 in Q1.”

Sutton was the only Volkswagen to make it into Q2, with Comtoyou Racing’s Maxime Potty the next best Golf in 14th place. The BTCC racer is keen to mix it with the TCR Europe regulars in the races now he is at one with the new car.

“For the race, I’ve not raced against them but they’ve also not raced against me, so the WestCoast boys have done everything they possibly can for me to make sure I’m prepared enough and the Golf has been mega. So we’ve got a good idea of where we can go setup-wise and I think we’ve got a nice little package,” said Sutton.

Unlike some of the other series newcomers this weekend, Sutton opted not to conduct any simulator preparation of the Barcelona circuit, instead opting to focus on on-boards and data analysis to spot the differences between the Golf and the Civic he previously drove.

“Each car has its pros and cons, each has its own traits but personally I like both cars, they’re both good to drive. As long as they’re in that working window, they deliver a similar pace,” Sutton  The Golf was really dialled in in Q1, but we just didn’t have the tyres to go again in Q2. That’s a shame because it deserved better than P6,” said Sutton.