BMR Racing are celebrating success after Adrian Flux Subaru Racing driver Ash Sutton was crowned the 2017 British Touring Car Champion after claiming 6 race wins and 14 podiums in what has been an incredible season.
In only his second year in the championship 23-year-old Ash arrived at the Brands Hatch GP Circuit season finale leading the championship by just 10 points ahead of former Double BTCC Champion Colin Turkington.
Arriving at the circuit with the maximum 75kgs of success ballast on board his Subaru Levorg, Ash started the weekend with a strong qualifying session on Saturday afternoon setting the 3rd quickest time. His rival Turkington endured a session plagued with electrical problems and only managed a time which placed him down the order to position him 17th on the grid for the first of Sundays three races.
Ash had a superb first race of the day finishing on the podium in 3rd place keeping his championship hopes well and truly alive. The race was won by Aiden Moffat with Tom Ingram in second. Turkington only managed to score one point after finishing back in 15th place giving Ash a great 24-point advantage. Fellow Subaru drivers James Cole, Jason Plato and Josh Price finished in 19th, 22nd and 28th respectively.
The title was in touching distance but we all know that anything can happen in BTCC and for race two Ash would be carrying 57kg whilst Turkington would be weight free. Turkington flew through the race and up the order to take the win whilst Ash being bagged down with the ballast still managed a great battle and finished in 12th place. The points margin was greatly reduced and Ash now held just a six-point advantage in the lead. James finished in 22nd with Josh 23rd and Jason 24th.
The number 10 ball was selected for the reverse grid draw which would see Mike Epps on pole position for the third and final race of the day. This placed Ash’s main rival Turkington 10th on the grid with 75kgs of ballast and a weight free Ash right behind him in 12th for the final showdown and with the rain arriving it made things a little more interesting.
Ash got a great start in the final race, as did his rival Turkington and both got a clean getaway before disaster struck on lap two for Turkington when he received contact as Ingram’s Toyota touched the Ford of Mat Jackson through Graham Hill Bend sending Jackson off the circuit briefly and as he returned to the track he made contact with Turkington breaking the right rear upright on the BMW resulting in him retiring from the race and putting an end to his title bid. Turkington’s demise meant that Ash had secured the BTCC title!!!! The remaining laps seemed to go on for an eternity but the celebrations were already in force as reality sunk in that we had won the outright drivers title, in just the fifth year as a team in the championship and only the second for Subaru and their Levorg model. The race was eventually won by Rob Austin with Jack Goff claiming second place as Ash completed the podium after making up a staggering nine places to finish in third.
An emotional Ash Sutton commented: “I’m absolutely over the moon, this is a dream come true! To sum up the day, race one everything went as planned and we got the resulted we needed but then come race two we lost some of the points to Colin that we’d gained in the first part of the day so it was proving to be a real roller coaster. For race three, we started just behind Colin on the grid with him carrying ballast and us being weight free I knew we had to give it everything we had and we keep him in sight. When I saw him get tangled up at the bottom of Graham Hill Bend the team came over the radio to tell me he was out of the race and I was free to go and enjoy myself. I couldn’t believe it, I had to double check a couple of times to make absolutely certain and even then, it didn’t really sink in and to top it off I got another podium position.
“For myself and the team this means absolutely everything, we have all worked very hard for this. It’s been a tough year for Subaru, things haven’t always gone smoothly and we’ve had a lot thrown at us but we’ve just kept picking ourselves back up and made the most of the Subaru Levorg especially through the corners when we’ve lacked the straight-line speed.
“I’d like to thank everyone who’s been behind me this year, to the team, Adrian Flux Subaru Racing, Subaru UK, the sponsors and the fans, I couldn’t have done this without you all, thank you for believing in me.”
Warren Scott, BMR Racing Team Principal, commented “It’s absolutely amazing! The championship title was always the goal and we always believed but to finally achieve it is just something else.
“We started off the season knowing that we had the best package on the grid with the Subaru Levorg but we can’t take anything away from the team who have continuously fought through to the bring the car up to being competitive by Oulton Park, it’s from there that we’ve been strong.
“Most people will probably say that we won the championship with the great points scored at Oulton Park and Croft but I truly believe the championship was won in races 1, 2 and 3 where our straight-line performance wasn’t where we wanted, but with the strength of the team and the drivers we lost the fewest points as possible to help us to win the final.
“Ash certainly has been the star of the paddock this year, but we have always known that to be the case, he has a fantastic future ahead of him and one that we are very excited about.”
Paul Tunnicliffe, Managing Director of Subaru UK, commented: “I couldn’t be more thrilled about our success. I have personally followed the team around the circuits this season, and always felt we would be in a great position for the championship come the end of September. The best car, the best drivers and the best team, it all came good. Whilst it would have been easier on the nerves had we wrapped it up earlier, I am delighted for the fans that they could enjoy an exciting final race day, and we can be happy that we have triumphed in a campaign that has, once again, delivered the best in spectator entertainment. I am very grateful to every member of the hardworking team at BMR, who have endured long days and sleepless nights throughout the season. In Ash we have a worthy winner, and a fine ambassador for the Subaru brand – from Rookie to championship winner in two seasons is a remarkable achievement, and I anticipate more of the same next season.”
We would like to finish by saying a huge thank you to Subaru UK, Adrian Flux Insurance Services, Autoglym and all of our loyal sponsors, to our technical partners and the behind the scenes team and finally to all of our fans that have shown us their support throughout the year.