Ashley Sutton crowned BTCC champion following dramatic season finale

02 Oct 17

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship produced another nail-biting climax at Brands Hatch this past weekend (30 September/ 1 October) with Ashley Sutton emerging as champion.

After nine events and 27 races, the destiny of the title came down to the final weekend of the season with a memorable showdown being played out around the famous Grand Prix circuit.

Race day started in tumultuous fashion with pole sitter Jack Goff spinning into the tyre wall at Paddock Hill Bend on the opening lap, sending him down the order.

Aiden Moffat inherited the lead as Goff recovered and the Laser Tools Racing driver would ultimately never be headed, despite enduring race-long pressure from Tom Ingram and Sutton.

Sitting in third, Sutton was in the box seat as extended his points lead. Turkington meanwhile endured a tough 15 laps as he struggled to make progress after a lowly qualifying. At the chequered flag, he crossed the in 15th meaning he scored a solitary point.

With a chance of the title being won in race two, those in attendance and watching on TV were treated to one of the best BTCC races in recent memory.

Starting from 15th, Team BMW’s Turkington utilised the soft tyre and a 1-Series free of ballast to carve his way through the field. Progressing through the top ten, the double champion soon found himself behind Sutton and made his move on the run up to Druids.

From there, Turkington began to reduce the initial 24 point deficit as he continued to move forward. Taking the lead from Moffat at Paddock Hill Bend with a few laps remaining, Turkington made his escape and went on to score a crucial victory to keep his title dreams alive.

Sutton meanwhile found himself bumped down the order, scoring a handful of points virtue of 12th - setting up a mouth-watering final round of the season.

Murray Walker made the all-important reverse grid draw and the broadcasting legend didn’t disappoint as he pulled number 10 out of the bowl, promoting Mike Epps to pole position.

That therefore meant Turkington, carrying maximum ballast, would start tenth with Sutton right behind him in 12th.

Rain prior to round 30 threw just an extra curve ball into the mix as drivers hurried to make a decision on what tyres to run. With a majority of the grid opting for wets, the action got underway with Turkington on the attack immediately, picking up places on the opening lap.

Sutton however wasn’t far behind as he followed his rival. Things came to an unfortunate end though on lap two at Graham Hill Bend as Turkington suffered unfortunate contact from Mat Jackson, who had been hit by Ingram.

Sustaining a broken right rear upright, Turkington’s title charge was over and Sutton was champion. The 23-year-old still had a race to finish however and he dually capped his year off with a podium, hot on the heels of Jack Goff whilst Rob Austin took victory in the final race for Handy Motorsport’s Toyota Avensis.

Ingram took Independent Drivers' honours, whilst also securing the Independent Teams' title for his Speedworks Motorsport squad. Furthermore, Ingram claimed third in the overall standings after seeing off the challenge from reigning champion Gordon Shedden.   Whilst facing initial disappointment for missing out on the overall Drivers' crown there was still huge joy for Team BMW as it took both the Manufacturers' and Teams' championships.   Power Maxed Racing’s Senna Proctor enjoyed another hugely competitive day as he finished his rookie campaign by lifting the coveted Jack Sears Trophy.

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship returns in 2018 with the season kicking off at Brands Hatch on the 7/8 April.