New Subaru recruit Ashley Sutton says the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship grid is one of the most competitive ahead of his second season.
The 2015 Renault UK Clio Cup champion switches from Triple Eight to Team BMR for the coming season, trading MG machinery for a Subaru Levorg GT with his old team alongside Jason Plato, James Cole and rookie Josh Price.
25th on the time sheets during the Donington Park Media Day test on Thursday (16 March), early time behind the wheel of the Subaru has initially proved satisfying for Sutton.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag, Sutton said “the car is good. I like rear-wheel drive and the guys are giving the best that they can for me so, fingers crossed, we’ll have a perfect picture in the end.
“BMR got me on their Academy and I worked my way to where I am now. There were still links last year despite the job I was there to do at Triple Eight, but I’m now back where I belong and I’ve got to deliver.”
Sutton grabbed a brace of victories alongside two pole positions and Media Day spoils in his rookie BTCC foray last season, wins again on his mind for the coming season with a team that picked up six triumphs during the Subaru Levorg GT’s maiden year.
The 2017 grid features 16 race winners and a total of 329 victories shared between them, Sutton saying drivers will have to work hard to win consistently.
“Yes, I’m up for a fight and yes, I want to win some races, but I’ll be honest and say it’s not going to be easy for any of us”, warned Sutton ahead of the Brands Hatch opener at the start of April.
“I know I’m capable of winning races now. From an outsider’s point of view, look at the whole of this grid and try and tell me that’s not a hard grid – I think the hardest it’s been for a long, long time.
“Myself and Jason [Plato] will no doubt be squabbling between us, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Sutton’s new venture also sees the end of a close partnership with former team-mate, Josh Cook, the latter moving to Maximum Motorsport after the pair struck up a healthy friendship at Triple Eight.
Contrary to the public meltdown of friendships in Formula 1, Sutton said that intra-team bond would be missed, saying “me and Josh had a fantastic bond between the pair of us.
“Now, to be up against him – we were against each other to a degree as team-mates last year – it’s elbows out. We’re good friends off track, but I know I’ll be getting a few pushes on track this time. We know the limit between friendships and we’ll be good as gold!”