Ashley Sutton secures three top-10 finishes at Croft in British Touring Car Championship
Ashley Sutton moved up to third in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship with three top-10 finishes at Croft.
It proved to be a tricky weekend for the Bishop's Stortford racer at the newly-resurfaced North Yorkshire circuit, with a grid penalty for the third race following an incident involving Chris Smiley hampering him.
But the 25-year-old Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver still earned valuable points to move to within 13 of championship leader Colin Turkington in his pursuit of a second title.
Qualifying was hit by five red-flag stoppages in challenging weather conditions, but Sutton was able to set a best time of 1min 22.101sec around the 2.12-mile circuit to secure sixth place for the opening race.
He was soon shuffled back a couple of spots as the drivers jostled for position before managing to overtake Ollie Jackson and having to settle for seventh.
Sutton then ended another pulsating 15 laps in sixth spot, although there was bad news at the end of the second encounter as the stewards handed him a five-place grid penalty for his part in the contact that ended Honda driver Smiley's race.
The heavens opened before the third and final race and, like the majority of the grid, Sutton opted for wet tyres and revelled in the conditions.
He made two places on the opening lap before diving down the inside of Dan Cammish at the hairpin to move up to seventh.
Similar moves were then pulled on Turkington and Andrew Jordan as he went up to fifth before another piece of stunning overtaking took him past Matt Neal.
He was unable to catch the three drivers ahead of him, but a fourth-place finish completed a satisfactory weekend.
"We came here with high hopes, but I don't think the resurfacing suited our car," said Sutton, whose next BTCC assignment is at Oulton Park on June 29 and 30. "It's been another weekend where we have maximised everything - we couldn't have done any more.
"Straight-line speed has been our biggest Achilles heel, even though the characteristics of the circuit have traditionally been on our side.
"I didn't expect to go backwards in that first race and we were in the thick of the action in the second. I personally think the Smiley clash was a racing incident, so it was frustrating to be hit with a grid penalty.
"Had we not had that penalty then I think we could have won that final race as we were strong in those conditions. We managed to claw our way back and score a good result.
"Everyone at Adrian Flux Subaru Racing has been fantastic and they've worked tirelessly to ensure we are still in the mix."