Photo: PSP Images

Ash Sutton crowned BTCC champion with race one win

Ash Sutton has become a four-time champion in the British Touring Car Championship after a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race of the weekend at Brands Hatch.

The NAPA Racing driver had qualified on pole for the sixth time this season on Saturday to move a step closer to the championship crown and headed into race day aware that if he were to finish ahead of Tom Ingram, he would secure another title to move level with Andy Rouse and Colin Turkington.

Sutton was able to hold the lead at the start of the race, with Ingram managing to move into second spot going into Druids on the opening lap ahead of Rory Butcher.

Ingram then tried to make a move for the lead at Surtees but was unable to find a way ahead of Sutton, with the lead pair then racing away from the battle for third spot.

Sutton looked to have enough of a gap to hold on for the win before a late safety car was called out after Mikey Doble’s Vauxhall was fired into the gravel at Stirling’s.

It left a two-lap dash to the flag and despite nursing a vibration, Sutton was able to take the flag to secure win number eleven of the campaign and put himself out of reach in the standings.

“That was a tough one,” Sutton admitted. “Fair play to Tom as he had a go on the first lap and kept me honest. I had to push hard and I didn’t enjoy it when the safety car came out as I was feeling a slight vibration on the front left. But we’ve done enough, and I’m delighted.”

Bobby Thompson would round out the podium for Team HARD after an impressive run in his Cupra, dicing early on Butcher’s Toyota before the Scot suffered a puncture and ran off across the gravel on the exit of Sheene Curve to drop down the order.

Behind, a race long dice amongst the WSR and newly-named Alliance Racing squads was decided in favour of the BMW team, with Colin Turkington taking the flag in fourth place having managed to nip ahead of Dan Rowbottom just before the safety car was called out.

Rowbottom would ultimately slip back to to seventh as both Dan Cammish and Jake Hill nipped ahead in the final stages, Jelley, Ricky Collard and Adam Morgan rounding out the top ten.

Doble’s DNF means Power Maxed Racing team-mate Andrew Watson now has one hand on the Jack Sears Trophy title, with Watson moving 37 points ahead of Dexter Patterson and Doble one point further back.