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Ash Sutton is the new bookies’ favourite to win a maiden BTCC title after another stellar weekend saw him close the gap to leader Colin Turkington to just four points.
But the 23-year-old, sandwiched in second place in the standings between double champion Turkington and three-time winner Gordon Shedden, maintains he’s still the underdog.
“I’m still second at the end of the day,” he said. “I’m the new kid on the block, the fresh meat if you like, this is only my second year and I’m racing against some brilliant guys who have championships under their belts.
“But I like being the chaser, the attacker and I want that title now – it’s only fair these guys should start to share the titles around!”
Sutton took a first, second and fourth in his Adrian Flux Subaru Racing Levorg at Knockhill on Sunday to pile the pressure on his more experienced rivals, aided and abetted by Team BMR team-mates Jason Plato and James Cole.
“It was phenomenal for the team,” said Sutton, who was pipped for pole position by Plato with just seconds remaining in Saturday’s qualifying session.
“It was one of those qualifying sessions when you get pipped in the last 40 seconds and you think ‘for God’s sake’. I asked who I got pipped by and to hear it was Jason was mega, it changed my attitude altogether. To lock out the front row with Jason and do the same sort of thing in races one and two was a great performance for the team.
“To have James up there too was great, with three fifth-placed finishes that’s his best weekend so far, and Josh is improving too.”
With Plato and Cole ushering Sutton through from sixth to fourth in race three, on the heels of title rival Turkington, the Essex racer is happy to take all the help he can get.
Not that a resurgent Plato, with his car now free of the handling demons that have dogged him all year, will let the young pretender have it all his own way.
“I’ve got Jason, James and Josh who are all willing to be my wingmen and support me in my title bid,” said Sutton.
“It’s great to have that up with me and help push me on. In the first two races Jason was in a slightly better situation than me because he had no ballast, but we were definitely racing each other.
“We got told in the last few laps we could race, and I was more than happy to be pushing Jason away for second in race two than have a BMW in my rear view mirror.
“He’s got his 100 race wins that he wants to go and achieve, and it’s definitely doable for him this year. For sure, he’s going to battle it out to the end – we can race, just race clean, and I’m more than happy with that.”
Bookmaker Betway has Sutton the 17/20 favourite to take the title, with current leader Turkington 8/5, reigning champion Gordon Shedden 3/1 and Rob Collard 8/1.
All of which leaves Sutton unfazed by any notion of added pressure.
“If I continue what I’m doing we will be picking up results, there’s no point in changing anything unless something goes wrong,” he added.
“We’ve got great momentum at the moment and we’ll hopefully keep our good run going at Rockingham.”