Sutton ready to fight for title defence

Ash Sutton has vowed to keep fighting after his BTCC title defence was dealt a cruel blow at Knockhill.

“I won’t give up, but realistically it’s going to be hard,” said the reigning champion, who stands a daunting 51 points behind the ultra-consistent Colin Turkington with six races to go, starting this weekend at Silverstone.

What should have been a second successive win at rain-soaked Knockhill was stripped away, a punishment compounded by starting race three at the back of the grid with maximum ballast.

Given the way the Essex racer carved through the field from 30th to eighth in the finale, it seems highly likely he would have left Knockhill within touching distance of the Northern Irishman.

“Ballast mostly affects acceleration and being able to slow the car down,” explained Sutton. “When it’s raining performance in a straight line goes out of the window a little bit, it probably halves it and halves the effect under braking. The wet makes carrying weight a lot easier.

“I’ve always favoured wet conditions. From what I’ve seen on videos and bits of memories from when I was six or seven and first put in a car, we could not afford wet tyres so I was stuck out on slicks. That’s probably played a huge part in it. Whenever it rained I never for a minute thought ‘I’m worried now’.”

Gergo Toth Photography

Unfortunately, the rain looks set to stay away from Silverstone, an unfavourable track for the Adrian Flux Racing Subaru Levorg.

“I haven’t been this far away for a couple of meetings – I’ve always been 35 to 40 points away and suddenly being 51 points behind is a kick in the backside, and to then go to our weakest track on the calendar, it hurts even more.

“This round isn’t going to be a points-maker, I’ve just got to try and pull something out of the bag at Silverstone, hope a bit of luck goes our way this weekend and get the most amount of points we can.”

He may well need Turkington, clear at the top despite just one race win this season to Sutton’s five, to slip up.

“If he plays his consistency game, it’s going to be very, very hard,” said Sutton. “But it’s British touring cars and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Colin might have a breakdown or be involved in an incident or make an error.

“In Colin’s position, he’s been comfortably bumbling around the front of the grid, consistently finishing 4th or 5th and he can win the Championship.

“Sometimes race wins aren’t always needed, but they are if you have a bad start to the season. When you start on the back foot like I did the only way to make that margin up is with wins.

Gergo Toth Photography

“If I’d come away from Knockhill with what was looking like a clean sweep, I could have started playing the consistency game. It makes your life easier, the risk levels drop and that’s why you can see the consistency coming in with Colin.

“But there are still 140 points left on the table and he’s only 50 ahead, so mathematically I think the top eight can still do it.

“You know me, I never give up. I won’t change, and at the moment it’s working, the performance at Knockhill and the last few meetings were very strong. So it’s fingers crossed.”

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