Ash Sutton: ‘This year will be hard to beat’

Ash Sutton admitted that the 2023 season will be hard to beat after the NAPA Racing driver smashed numerous records en-route to his fourth championship title.

Hot favourite going into the Brands Hatch finale, Sutton was able to wrap up the title with victory in the opening race of the weekend and then doubled up in race two to equal the record for wins in a season held by Alain Menu.

That win also saw Sutton break the record for laps led in a season, whilst despite a trip off track in race three, the Ford man better the previous best for points in a season scored by Colin Turkington back in 2014.

“It’s pretty surreal for sure and the biggest thing for me is being the first driver to do it in both front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive,” he said. “I’m sure I’ll wake up tomorrow with a hangover and start to realise what we have achieved, and the next week will be all about letting it soak in.

“This year will be hard to beat, because I’ve had my son arrive, which is the best thing that has happened to me, and it’s changed my approach and I want to do more and make him proud of his dad. The prep that has gone in has been something else and we’ve worked hard to unlock more.”

Sutton’s title win was the first for the Alliance Racing squad – known until Monday as Motorbase – and the first for a driver at the wheel of a Ford since Menu took the last Super Touring title in 2000.

It also ended a run of titles for BMW in the manufacturers’ championship, with Ford on top for the first time since Supertouring.

“This Focus has been a pretty special car, and it will be hard to beat,” he said. “Even if we rocked up with a new car in the future, there is nothing to say it would be as good as what we’ve had here. It doesn’t mean we just give up, but we’ll need to dig deep to beat what we’ve done here.

“So much development has gone into the car and we opened every drawer and lifted out every tool to find the little bits that have added up. Tony [Carroza – engineer] has really helped me to dial in the car and it would have been hard to do this without him by my side as he is something special.”

As for the future, Sutton’s plans remain clear.

“I’d love to go out as the best touring car driver there is, and how I do that remains to be seen,” he said. “If it means that I’m here for multiple years and become part of the furniture then so be it, but if deals come along that mean I end up going somewhere else in the future, then so be it.”