BTCC Saturday: Ash Sutton storms to BTCC pole position at Thruxton

Ash Sutton punched in a superlative lap in Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship qualifying at Thruxton today (June 3) to claim a second consecutive pole position of the season.

The NAPA Racing UK driver - who arrived at the Hampshire venue sitting atop the standings - showed his class behind the wheel of his Ford Focus ST as he surged to the summit of the times in commanding style.

Thruxton specialist Josh Cook had set the pace in both practice sessions and was fastest midway through qualifying before Sutton came to the fore, hustling his front-wheel-drive machine to a lightening time of 1:15.489s.

Despite a late red flag stoppage setting up a five-minute showdown, nobody could unseat the three-time champion from extending NAPA Racing UK’s unbeaten record in BTCC qualifying this year.

Reigning champion Tom Ingram guided his BRISTOL STREET MOTORS with EXCELR8 Hyundai to the outside of the front row whilst Cook had to settle for third in his One Motorsport with Starline Racing Honda Civic Type R.

CarStore Power Maxed Racing’s Mikey Doble clinched a career-best fourth place in his Vauxhall Astra whilst the West Surrey Racing BMW duo of Jake Hill and Colin Turkington completed the top six.

The Vauxhall Astra’s pace around the flat-out 2.36-mile layout was further cemented as Andrew Watson and Aron Taylor-Smith locked out row four with Dan Cammish and Rory Butcher rounding out the top ten.

“It’s just a phenomenal job, we can’t shout loud enough!” Sutton enthused. “The car’s mega obviously, we had a great year here last year here in the two attempts we had, and the car was strong then – we’ve only made the car better. All day we’ve just been playing around, tweaking it, fine-tuning it, getting myself in a good place and just roll it all out for qualifying.

“I know Tom’s [Ingram] not going to be making it easy and obviously Josh [Cook] is sat there as well. It’s never easy, it’s always tough but we’ve just got to dial a bit of a race set up, maybe go back to where we were with the car when we first arrived, and as long as I can hang on and keep it all neat and tidy and get off the line, we should be in good shape.”

Of course, it wasn’t just BTCC qualifying that had fans on the edge of their seats as the championships that make up the TOCA support package also took centre stage over the course of the day around the home of the British Automobile Racing Club.

The Vertu Motors MINI CHALLENGE Trophy - which boasted a bumper 28-car entry list - led the way with two captivating races. Alex Solley charged to victory in the day’s opening contest before then doubling his tally a few hours later in a shortened second bout.

Door-to-door Mini action didn’t stop there as both The Dunlop Mini Miglia Challenge supported by Mini Spares and The Dunlop Mini Se7en Challenge supported by Mini Spares made a welcome return to Hampshire.

Two slipstreaming extravaganzas - one for each category - dazzled the bumper crowd with former BTCC champion Andrew Jordan and his father Mike ultimately scoring a win apiece.

Future stars of Formula 1 were also in action in the ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA with James Piszcyk leading home William Macintyre to give Hitech Pulse-Eight a one-two finish. Rodin Carlin racer Louis Sharp completed the podium in third.

Concluding the first day of competitive action was a pulsating Porsche Carrera Cup GB qualifying session which was ultimately topped by Richardson Racing driver Robert de Haan.

Three headline BTCC races will top the bill at Thruxton tomorrow (Sunday) with a full support race line-up scheduled too.

Fans will also be able to meet their favourite during the Pit Lane Walkabout while there will be something for everyone off-track with a variety of activities including skid pan rides, a driving experience supercar display and a trade village to explore around the venue.

Tickets will be available online and on the gate on arrival.