Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, run by Team BMR, travels down to Hampshire this weekend with a spring in its step as driver Ash Sutton leads the British Touring Car Championship.
However, with the weight ballast penalties for qualifying and the first race decided by your championship position, Ash will carry an extra 54kg in his race car.
“Heading to Thruxton as Championship leader is great but it also has its disadvantages,” he admits, “I have a small passenger onboard at the start of this weekend and that is going to hurt us come Qualifying and also in Race 1.
“Despite that, I feel we had a good feeling from the car at the test there a few weeks back and look to improve on that.
“So far this season couldn’t have gone any better,” he admits. “We are sitting in the strongest position yet, compared to the last few years. A lot of that has come down to a little bit of Lady Luck on a Saturday. Having the mixed and damp conditions has given us a leg-up. It’s just been about maintaining that pace come Sunday!”
A series of incredible points finishes at Donington Park during the previous race weekend means Ash is currently the man to beat, topping the BTCC standings with 70 World Championship points followed closely by BTC’s Josh Cook (driving a Honda Civic) on 67 points.
Hot on their heels is third-placed Colin Turkington on 65 points, the only man to have won more than one race so far this year, driving his BMW.
Located just a few miles West of Andover, Thruxton offers some particularly unique challenges and boasts the highest average speed of any UK circuit.
It’s not all about the power of your engine however, as Antonio Carrozza, Chief Engineer of BMR, explains:
“Thruxton isn’t a circuit that demands the highest power compared to others on the BTCC calendar, but it does have the highest drag penalty” he explains. “Thruxton’s high-speed corners mean that we can utilise the Levorg’s strengths, so it’s going to be a bit of a mixed bag for us.
“Qualifying will be the all-important aspect for us on Saturday afternoon, it is vital for us to get a good position for the opening race.”
The unique challenges of Thruxton are no news to Antonio and the team, however, after a productive test session earlier in the year gave the team and drivers a chance to find their feet.
“We learnt a lot at the Thruxton test in April,” he said, “and the programme we ran through gave us very conclusive answers on how to improve the car, so we will approach Thruxton with a very specific set-up strategy.”
When asked how he feels about Thruxton, Ash Sutton told us more about its intense challenge.
“Thruxton is a little different compared to the rest of the calendar,” Ash revealed, “being the fastest circuit in the UK makes it a hairy ride, you never feel like you get a chance to breathe there despite the long straights, it requires huge amounts of commitment.”
Senna Proctor, still in his first year driving the Subaru Levorg, is keen to keep the championship going and get more miles under his belt.
“I can’t wait to get to Thruxton,” he said, “it’s one of my favourite circuits on the calendar and I look forward to getting out in the Adrian Flux Subaru Levorg.
“Thruxton is different to every other circuit because of the non-stop high-speed corner sequences you are faced with as a driver, it’s certainly a challenging circuit but one I love!”
Reflecting on how the season has gone so far, Senna was keen to have a bit more luck on his side as he felt his results could have been better.
“The season so far for me, I would say, has been poor mainly due to some bad luck and inexperience in the car. However, I feel more comfortable with the Subaru Levorg each outing and I am fighting on top form ready for Thruxton.”
Rounds 7,8 and 9 last year
Last year the same rounds of the championship were held at Thruxton, with Ash experiencing a below-average set of results for that season, the highlight being 11th place in the Levorg, as well as 15th and 20th placed finishes.
Senna experienced some better results whilst driving a Vauxhall Astra, including a podium in the third race to complement his 6th and 7th places in the other two races.
Watch it on TV
If you’re unable to find your way to the circuit to experience BTCC in the flesh then don’t despair, ITV4 will once again be showing live coverage (available in HD) of 2019 BTCC rounds, with extensive coverage of the support races including Ginettas and Clios.
Qualifying will be live online on Saturday (May 18, 2019) at http://itv.com/btcc.
Rounds 7,8 and 9 of the BTCC (as well as coverage of the support races) will be shown on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, Sunday (May 19, 2019) from 11:15am.
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Photo credits (including header photo): Jakob Ebrey