Bishop's Stortford driver Ashley Sutton looking forward to summer break in Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship
Ashley Sutton is looking forward to a break after slipping to fifth in the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship standings in a difficult weekend at Oulton Park.
Having enjoyed success around the Cheshire circuit in recent years, the Bishop's Stortford driver had to settle for eighth, 16th and seventh in the three races.
The Adrian Flux Subaru Racing competitor faced a challenging qualifying session in his rear-wheel-drive Subaru Levorg.
Running inside the top 10 at one stage early on, Sutton had his fastest time removed during the mid-point of the session due to exceeding track limits. Fighting back to set a 1min 26.581sec lap, the GO Homes-backed ace salvaged P14, which then became P13 following a grid penalty for a rival further forward.
Launching off the line, Sutton found himself in the thick of the action from the start, picking up two places on the opening tour. Dicing with the Mercedes of Adam Morgan following a handful of laps behind the safety car, the 25-year-old made his move down the inside of the Ciceley driver at Cascades, clinching ninth.
Latching onto the back of Jason Plato next, Sutton further showcased his overtaking skillset with a late dive down the inside of the Vauxhall driver at the hairpin to secure eighth, where he would go on to ultimately finish, on the penultimate lap.
Following the race, Sutton was handed a five-place grid penalty for contact with Morgan in the midst of his move for ninth. Now starting 13th, the former Jack Sears Trophy champion saw his chances of progress halted on the first lap after contact with Rob Collard sent him spinning at the exit of Cascades.
Forced to pit with resulting damage, BMR Racing checked over the #116 machine before allowing Sutton to rejoin as the field followed behind the safety car. As soon as racing resumed the Subaru driver was soon on the move and scythed his way from the back of the grid to 16th, narrowly missing out on a points finish.
Lining up on the eighth row of the grid for race three, the push for points continued as he charged into the top 10, getting the better of championship leader Colin Turkington after a race-long duel to cap off his weekend in seventh place.
Sutton and Adrian Flux Subaru Racing are set to join a majority of teams at Snetterton on July 16-17 for the traditional in-season test before the championship returns to the Norfolk venue on August 3-4.
"It has been a frustrating weekend but I sort of expected that we would struggle," said Sutton. "We managed to make progress in two of the three races, and had it not been for the grid penalty and contact in race two I think we would have scored a few more points.
"Everyone at Adrian Flux Subaru Racing has worked tirelessly once again and we are giving it the full fury of the car. I don't think I could have got any more out of the package.
"We'll get our heads down during the summer break, but our little toolbox that we delve into to try to extract more out of the car is becoming empty.
"It's a nice time to hit the reset button and we will come back stronger at Snetterton."