Crunch time approaching for Sutton’s title defence

Ash Sutton heads to Oulton Park this weekend knowing that crunch time is approaching for his hopes of retaining his BTCC title.

The defending champion kick-started his title charge at the Cheshire track early last summer, with his maiden Subaru victory sandwiched between third and fourth-placed finishes.

He followed that up a fortnight later with a win and two seconds at Croft, another track that suits the rear wheel drive Levorg down to the ground.

But after a disappointing weekend at Thruxton, where a lack of straight-line speed was compounded by a broken driveshaft ahead of race three, Sutton knows there is little more margin for error if he wants to hang on to his crown.

The next meetings are crucial…

Photo credit: Gergo Toth Photography

“The next two meetings are very crucial for my championship bid,” said the 24-year-old, who has slipped down to ninth in the standings, 41 points behind leader Adam Morgan.

“In the past couple of years, these next two meetings are where the team has brought its championship hopes alive, so we hope we can do something.”

In an open championship, he remains closer to the leader than at the same stage last season but, up to now, speed trap data shows that the car has been well down on horsepower.

“We’ve definitely got a little bit to find,” he said. “Our qualifying pace is our weak point, but since Thruxton there have been a few changes made, and we’ve looked at a few things that we can do to try to maximise our performance and we hope it plays out favourably on the track.

“We need to maximise absolutely everything – that includes me as the driver, everything. “Every effort will be going into it – we’ve got to literally make it so our pockets are empty with what we can do, and have a big push before the summer break.

“I think we’ve just got to get our heads down and make the most of this weekend, just make sure we’re picking up good points even if we’re bubbling around the top five.

“Some silverware would be nice, but the main thing is we’re looking for consistency.”

Difficulties at Thruxton

Photo credit: Gergo Toth Photography

Reflecting on Thruxton, Sutton was philosophical about the drive shaft failure that robbed him of a potentially useful points haul in race three.

Having qualified in 18th, the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver fought his way up to 15th in race one, then 11th in race two, scoring a total of six points, before disaster struck as he joined the grid for the final race.

Team BMR engineers worked wonders to repair the damage in time for Sutton to join the back of the grid, from where he battled his way through to finish 20th.

“It was just one of those things,” he said. “Last year we didn’t have one issue, but unfortunately when things are not going so great you tend to have a bit of bad luck.

“If we’d had that last year would we have won the championship? Who knows? At some point everyone’s going to have a bit of bad luck.

“In the races, our lack of performance was helped a little by the tyre degradation of the front wheel drive cars, and everyone knows I love a challenge coming through the field.”

Fans will get the chance to hear all the latest from the man himself when Sutton joins BMR team-mate Jason Plato at an event hosted by sponsors Adrian Flux at the circuit on Saturday evening at a marquee outside Chequers Restaurant from 6.30pm.

Qualifying is live online from 3.15pm on Saturday, with racing live from 11.15am on Sunday.


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