Ashley Sutton claims his 23rd career victory to extend lead at the top of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship in a good race weekend at Thruxton
Ashley Sutton cemented his advantage at the summit of the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship standings by claiming a commanding fourth win of the season - and the 23rd of his career - at Thruxton.
Storming to victory in race two, the former Birchwood High School student finished fifth and 10th in the other two contests to leave the high-speed Hampshire venue with a 30-point cushion over the chasing pack.
Bishop's Stortford racer Sutton produced a superlative qualifying lap despite being ladened with 75kg of success ballast.
Setting a best time of 1min 15.862sec in his Infiniti Q50 around the 2.36-mile circuit, the Laser Tools Racing driver secured seventh on the grid for the first of Sunday's three races.
In race one, the 27-year-old delivered a measured drive to pick his way up the order, taking the chequered flag in fifth.
It was race two where the two-time champion really came to the fore as he charged to an impressive victory. Carrying less weight, Sutton's rear-wheel-drive machine came alive and he completed a sensational move on two cars around the back of the circuit in the early stages.
By lap four he had caught and passed the BMW of Tom Oliphant for second and then set about closing the gap to race one winner and good friend Josh Cook.
Reeling the Honda man in over the course of the next few laps, Sutton made his move on lap 11 as he utilised having the better run out of the final chicane and slipped pass on the approach to turn one.
From there he maintained a comfortable lead for the remainder of the bout and powered his way to victory.
Starting the reverse-grid contest from eighth, Sutton capped off a good weekend with a battling drive for 10th and more vital points in the quest to defend his title.
"Coming into the weekend I had it mapped out that race one was about getting a solid result and losing some ballast, then we could really go after it in race two and chase a win," said Sutton.
"Josh didn't make it easy for me in that second race. I made a few passes early on but once I got into second it was hard to gauge if I was catching him, then my engineer came over the radio and said I'd taken a few 10ths out of him. From there it was game on and I managed to get the move done.
"Race three was very stop-start and I was just trying to manage things. It was a bit unfortunate when Tom [Ingram] came through as I was trying to duck in behind him, but I just got out of sequence and that dropped me back a few spots.
"Overall it has been another mega weekend! I've come away extending my points lead and picking up another win at what is probably the only bogey track for me and the car left on the calendar."
Next up for Sutton and his rivals is a race weekend at Croft on September 18 and 19.
"We go to Croft next, which I love, and the aim will be the same once again; to either maintain or extend the championship lead," said Sutton.
"I'm not getting ahead of myself as there is a long way to go and plenty can still happen, but we're where we want to be."