ASHLEY SUTTON GRABS LAST-GASP BTCC POLE POSITION AT THRUXTON
Ashley Sutton has begun the defence of his Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship crown in perfect fashion after grabbing a last-gasp pole position at Thruxton for the 2021 season opener.
On what proved to be a breathless 30 minutes, the session began on a wet surface due to persistent rain and wind however conditions would continue to improve throughout, ultimately setting up an unmissable finish.
Having been on the pace across both practice sessions, Laser Tools Racing’s Sutton wasted no time in storming to the top of the times early on before the field began to switch across to slick tyres.
Entering the final ten minutes, slick-shod cars soon came to the fore with Jake Hill, Rory Butcher, Tom Ingram and Josh Cook all enjoying a spell at the summit before the reigning champion blitzed them all.
As the clock ticked to zero, the Infiniti Q50 of Sutton scythed his way around the high-speed to Hampshire venue to storm to provisional pole position having set a best time of 1:20.041.
BTC Racing’s Cook would ultimately settle for second place whilst Colin Turkington emerged as another driver to leave it late and vault up the leaderboard, nabbing third in the closing moments.
On his debut in the Hyundai i30N, Ingram produced a superlative performance to net fourth whilst Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Butcher settled for fifth. Tom Oliphant made it two West Surrey Racing BMW’s in the top six as he ended sixth.
MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square’s Hill had looked like he could pip Sutton but found himself caught up with a slowing Jason Plato at the chicane late on, curtailing his hopes of a maiden pole and leaving him seventh.
Gordon Shedden, Ollie Jackson and Chris Smiley rounded out the top ten, with Plato and the returning Dan Cammish locking out the sixth row of the grid.
Ashley Sutton: “That’s a great way to start the year! Conditions were really tricky and with about 15 minutes to go I was leaving the pit lane on wets whilst many had already made the switch to slicks. We made the switch to slicks, managed to get the temperature in the tyres and then was able to hook up a lap good enough for pole. We’ve shown we are quick in the wet so lets see what we can do tomorrow, where the forecast looks a bit better".
It wasn’t just the BTCC that starred as several championships from the TOCA support package took centre stage over the course of the day as well.
Matt Hammond won the opening Mini Challenge Trophy encounter before Harry Nunn triumphed in race two. Elsewhere, James Hedley continued his scintillating form around Thruxton in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA - powered by Ford EcoBoost, winning the 2021 opener - his fourth on the bounce.
Theo Edgerton ruled the roost in the Porsche Visit Cayman Islands Sprint Challenge GB, edging the charging Ethan Hawkey whilst John Bennett triumphed in the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
Capping off the days action was a pulsating qualifying session from the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship, which ultimately saw Aston Millar score pole position.
To view all of the results from today’s track action, click here.
The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship is set to take centre stage around Thruxton tomorrow with three races scheduled to play out. All the action will be broadcast live on ITV4, starting at 10:50.