Ashley Sutton stamped his authority on the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship this past weekend (May 20/21) by moving to the summit of the points after charging to a pair of commanding race wins at Snetterton.
The NAPA Racing UK driver was wheel-perfect on a sun-kissed weekend at the Norfolk venue as he became the first driver since Alain Menu in 1997 to win four races in a row – having triumphed in races two and three at Brands Hatch last time out.
Despite feeling under the weather, BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8’s Tom Ingram dug deep to triumph in a frenetic reverse grid encounter, ensuring he remains within reach of Sutton in the battle for the biggest prize in UK motorsport.
Hot on the heels of action-packed events at Donington Park and Brands Hatch, the country’s premier motorsport series served up three hard-fought contests around the 300 layout – shaking up the championship order in the process.
Basking in bright sunshine on Saturday, qualifying around the challenging 2.97-mile circuit proved to be a truncated affair as two red flags – the first caused by Nick Halstead and the second by Dan Cammish – interrupted proceedings.
Once the session did restart it was three-time champion Sutton that reigned supreme as he broke the existing qualifying lap record on his way to a masterful pole position; which saw him finish more than three tenths clear of his nearest challenger.
Defending champion Ingram proved to be ‘best of the rest’ as he grabbed second ahead of West Surrey Racing duo Colin Turkington and Jake Hill. Rounding out the top five Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Ricky Collard in his formidable Corolla.
Race one saw Sutton take the 30th victory of his career in style as he held off a late charge from Hill, who had opted to run the soft tyre. Making a sensational start, Sutton bolted from the chasing pack in the early going as he built up a three second lead in as many laps.
Behind, the trio of Turkington, Hill and Ingram scrapped for position and after multiple attempts, Hill finally made a move stick on his stablemate late on. With clean air, he wasted no time in reeling in Sutton but it proved to be too late for him to mount a serious challenge.
Opting to run the preferred soft tyre in race two, Sutton continued his fine run of form with another victory – this time in a more comfortable and commanding manner.
Replicating his fast start of race one, the triple title winner built up a sizeable advantage over the rest of the field to coast to victory ahead of Hill and Turkington.
The weekend’s third and final contest then saw the current defending champion Ingram chalk up his first win of the season – despite enduring the effects of a fever.
Playing the tactical game by leaving the medium tyre until the reverse grid race, the Hyundai driver produced a masterful drive to charge from seventh to the top step of the podium and open his account for the year.
Behind, Cammish had carved his way through the order on the softs to finish second but a post-race exclusion saw Rory Butcher and Dan Rowbottom promoted to second and third on the podium.
Leaving Snetterton, Sutton holds a seven-point lead over Ingram at the top of the BTCC Drivers’ Championship whilst Motorbase/Ford head the Manufacturers-Constructors Championship.
In the Teams’ Championship, NAPA Racing UK lead the standings after three events whilst Josh Cook and Autobrite Direct with Millers Oils sit out front in the Independent Drivers’ and Independent Teams’ Championship’s respectively.
The Jack Sears Trophy – which is open to drivers who hadn’t scored an outright podium in the series prior to the start of the season – continues to be led by Sam Osborne.
To view the full classification of results from all BTCC sessions at Snetterton, CLICK HERE.
The fastest track in the UK, Thruxton Circuit, provides the next stop on the calendar with Rounds 10, 11 & 12 taking place on June 3/4. Advance tickets for the event are currently available to purchase from the Thruxton website.