Laser Tools Racing Infiniti Q50 racer Ash Sutton sealed his third British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) title with a race to spare at Brands Hatch – and then ended the year in style with a dominant win in the season finale.
BTC Racing Honda Civic Type R driver Josh Cook was the form man at the Kent circuit, dominating the first two races to overshadow the title battle.
Cook stars while Sutton plays it safe
Cook qualified on the front row, but it was his team-mate Senna Proctor who snagged pole for the opener. But Cook made the better start to grab the lead and fended off Proctor to claim glory. Gordon Shedden was third in his Team Halfords Civic.
Cook dominated the second race in similar fashion, although Proctor didn’t have such a good time, sliding off at Druids on the opening lap.
Dan Lloyd (Power Maxed Vauxhall Astra) stormed up to second on the opening lap and held off Shedden to the finish.
Sutton takes it steady…
Having entered the Brands finale with a 32-point championship lead over four-time title winner Colin Turkington (BMW M330i M Sport), Sutton knew he only needed solid finishes to wrap up back-to-back titles.
He extended his lead in the opening race by finishing one spot ahead of Turkington in sixth. Even though Sutton lost a sport to Turkington early in race two, a comfortable run to fifth - one place behind his rival – was enough to clinch the crown.
…and then strikes in the finale
After wrapping up the title, Sutton admitted that he had changed his traditionally hard-charging approach for this year, tempering his racing instincts and focusing on notching up consistent points finishes.
“I want to go down as one of the greats of the championship, and so if it means that we’ve got to go after the championships, then we’re going to do it,” said Sutton.
But with the title secure, Sutton promised he would revert to his usual style for the finale - and he didn’t disappoint. From fourth on the grid, Sutton battled past Dan Rowbottom (Civic Type R) to take the lead and then pulled clear into the distance.
The win was Sutton’s fifth of the year, tying him with Cook for the most this season.
Rowbottom secured second despite a late charge from Tom Ingram (ExcelR8 Hyundai i20 Fastback N), who had entered with an outside chance of the title but struggled for much of the weekend.