Ashley Sutton said he took great pride in lifting the Jack Sears Trophy in his maiden Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season, a year in which we lost the late champion of 1958 himself, Jack Sears.
2015 Renault UK Clio Cup champion Sutton ended the season as top rookie after graduating to BTCC with the experienced Triple Eight outfit, beating Team HARD‘s Michael Epps by 18 points after a frenetic finale at Brands Hatch GP circuit.
Sutton therefore emerged with the Jack Sears Trophy previously lifted by MG team-mate, Josh Cook, handed the award by David Sears, son of the late ‘Gentleman Jack’ who tragically passed away in August 2016.
“That was my forth goal and had been since the very start of the season”, Sutton told The Checkered Flag of Jack Sears Trophy success. “An absolute dream. We’ve achieved everything else on top of it. It’s brilliant”
Many chapters were written alongside that triumph by the rookie however, including two pole positions at Donington and Silverstone and a famous victory in a sodden third race at Croft in June.
A second win at Silverstone was stripped from him for a technical infringement on his MG6, but Sutton was impressed by his debut season after finishing 13 points behind team-mate Cook and 13th overall in the Drivers’ Championship.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’ve adapted to it very quickly”, said Sutton of his maiden campaign. “It shows and now we can look at the bad mistakes we’ve made and make it better next year.”
Speaking of his own personal highlights of the season, Sutton said that there were several key events that stood out since March.
Despite the emotion of achieving a maiden win as early as in his 15th attempt, lifting a trophy in honour of the late inaugural BTCC champion, Jack Sears, was something Sutton took huge pride in.
“That’s now pipped it”, said Sutton on his rookie title. “I didn’t think the Croft win – or even the Silverstone win before it was taken away – would be topped, but obviously after the passing of Jack, this trophy means 10 times more.”
On 2017 plans, Sutton admitted: “We’ll sort it out behind the scenes.
“For a debut year, I couldn’t have asked to have been with a better team than MG and Triple Eight. What more would you want?
“We’ve always had a good laugh. We get down to the nitty gritty but at the same time, when it all goes wrong like it did at Slverstone, we’ll throw ice creams at each other afterwards!”