Ashley Sutton took a lights-to-flag victory in the opening British Touring Car Championship race at Croft, soaking up sustained pressure from Colin Turkington for the entire fifteen lap duration.
Sutton started well and was clear of Turkington going into the first turn, and from there carefully managed the gap to the chasing BMW. Turkington would not let the leading Subaru escape him at any point, hovering closely behind and waiting for an opportune moment.
In the closing two laps, the Northern Irishman turned up the wick on his efforts, forcing Sutton to become increasingly defensive in the final sector, hugging the inside line closer and closer at the final hairpin as each lap passed. The defensive strategy worked, and despite a worrying moment on the final lap, with Sutton furiously flashing his headlights at the handicapped Chevrolet of Dave Newsham, he successfully blocked Turkington’s path to the lead.
“I was trying to force a mistake,” explained Turkington afterwards to ITV Sport. “We weren’t strong in the right places, but overall I’m happy with the result.”
Mat Jackson had a quiet run to secure the final podium position from his third placed starting slot, but events were somewhat less calm behind the podium finishers. Rob Collard drove an excellent race in the second BMW, picking his way through the field from eleventh to fourth, passing Gordon Shedden for the position on the last lap, diving past at the exit of Complex, the Honda’s tyres having little life left in them by the end.
Collard’s progress was aided by an embarrassing incident for the Subaru team, with James Cole colliding with team-mate Josh Price with a badly executed passing move at the hairpin on Lap 10. While Cole was initially able to continue, both drivers were forced to retire before the finish.
The small silver lining from the accident came from last of the Subaru quartet, Jason Plato. He had run wide at Sunny In and taken a trip through the grass on the opening lap, dropping to near the back of the field. Over the next 14 laps he picked his way back through the field, helped by Jake Hill‘s aggressive defending stacking up the field from 11th backwards. He sneaked into the Top 10 at the very end of the race, deploying a clever cutback move at the hairpin against Ollie Jackson on the last lap.
|1||Ashley Sutton||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||21:52.260|
|2||Colin Turkington||Team BMW||+0.671|
|3||Mat Jackson||Motorbase Performance||+8.653|
|4||Rob Collard||Team BMW||+11.307|
|5||Gordon Shedden||Halfords Yuasa Racing||+11.858|
|6||Andrew Jordan||BMW Pirtek Racing||+12.984|
|7||Josh Cook||MG Racing RCIB Insurance||+18.764|
|8||Tom Ingram||Speedworks Motorsport||+19.585|
|9||Max Chilton||Power Maxed Racing||+19.995|
|10||Jason Plato||Adrian Flux Subaru Racing||+35.408|
|11||Ollie Jackson||AmD Tuning||+35.738|
|12||Rob Austin||Handy Motorsport||+44.563|
|13||Jake Hill||TAG Racing||+45.961|
|14||Senna Proctor||Power Maxed Racing||+46.265|
|15||Stephen Jelley||Team Parker Racing||+46.425|