Race two victory helps Infiniti Q50 ace triumph in mixed conditions in dramatic final round showdown
Ash Sutton secured his second British Touring Car Championship title at Brands Hatch, securing the crown ahead in a tense title decider held in mixed conditions.
The Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50 driver had headed to the Kent circuit for the final three races trailing four-time champion Colin Turkington by nine points, but seized the initiative with second place in the first of three races and victory in the second. With Turkington struggling for pace in the wet in his BMW 330i M Sport, sixth place in the final race was enough for Sutton to clinch the title.
Toyota Corolla driver Tom Ingram bolstered his slim title chances by claiming pole position for the opening race, which was held in treacherous wet conditions. While Ingram took an early lead, the fast-starting Sutton vaulted into second ahead of Rory Butcher (Ford Focus ST) and title hopeful Dan Cammish (Honda Civic Type R).
Cammish was on a charge, and battled up to second, with a mid-race safety car then helping him close in on Ingram. He then pulled off a stunning move to grab the lead on lap 13, and pulled clear for a much-needed win.
Sutton also worked his way past Ingram, while Turkington could only finish ninth. That gave Sutton a two-point lead in the standings – and he would quickly add further to it in the second race.
With the sun out and the track drying, most of the field started race two on slicks. But the few drivers who opted for wets had a clear pace advantage early on; they included Tom Chilton (Honda Civic Type R) who charged past Cammish and Sutton and built up a substantial early lead.
But the track soon driver and Chilton was powerless to prevent Sutton storming into the lead, before the Civic man then tumbled down the order. Ingram and Cammish battled early on, with the Toyota man eventually getting the edge for what would become second.
Turkington was far more competitive in the dry and was in the mix at the front, running fourth behind Cammish in the later stages. He actually passed Cammish near the finish when the Honda slowed to avoid a spinning car, but the move was made under yellow flags and stewards reversed the position.
Sutton’s victory meant he went into the reverse grid final race with a nine-point title lead, and knowing he only needed a solid finish.
With the rain again falling, Butcher put in a stunning drive to quickly build an unassailable racer lead, while Ingram fought past Jake Hill (Civic Type R) to take second.
Turkington found himself running sixth, but with his BMW again struggling in the wet he was unable to close in on those ahead of him. He soon had Sutton on his tail, and the Q50 driver eventually found a way past. Turkington eventually finished ninth.
Sutton’s title success came in his first season for the Laser Tools Racing squad, and driving the previously unfenced Q50. The 26-year-old claimed his first title in 2017, driving a Subaru Levorg for Team BMR.