Sutton Crowned Champion as Austin Wins Race 3 at Brands

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Credit: BTCC Media

Ashley Sutton secured a first BTCC championship title in the final round of the season, taking advantage of an early race retirement for title rival Colin Turkington.

Both Turkington and Sutton had excellent starts, picking their way past several cars to challenge for the top five after the opening lap. The title was decided shortly thereafter when Turkington was collected by a recovering Mat Jackson, who had been forced wide at Graham Hill Bend by Tom Ingram behind.

The impact from Jackson’s Focus broke the right rear upright of Turkington’s BMW, who immediately pulled into the pits to retire, handing the championship to Sutton.

“There’s nothing you can do in that situation,” Turkington told ITV Sport afterwards. “I think Mat [Jackson] was coming back onto the track, and the vision probably isn’t that good and he didn’t see me. It’s one of these things, [I was] just unlucky.

“Some days it goes your way and some days it doesn’t. It’s not in us to give up. It’s a sport with such fine margins, and a lot of the time the end result is ultimately out of your control. We needed a bit of luck there that we didn’t get, so fair play to Ash as he’s driven well all year.

“I just wish it was me on the top step of the podium, but not this time.”

Out front, Rob Austin had taken the lead at Surtees on the first lap, diving to the inside of pole-sitter Mike Epps. A safety car was deployed shortly after Turkington’s race-ending accident when Senna Proctor ran wide into the gravel at Druids, as many cars struggled to stay on top of the rapidly changing conditions.

Austin pulled away from Epps behind when the race resumed, creating a comfortable gap which the Handy Motorsport driver would manage carefully after Jack Goff passed Epps for second at the midway point.

Ingram and Sutton would both go on to pass Epps late in the race, with Sutton moving into the final podium place in the closing laps.

Behind Epps in fifth was Gordon Shedden, who could not hold Ingram at bay for third in the championship standings despite the valiant efforts of team-mate Matt Neal. Shedden had been gifted a position by his Honda team-mate, only to run wide into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend a lap later.

Neal was able to block Jackson behind while Shedden retook sixth place around the outside of Druids, which ultimately dropped Neal to eighth as the opportunistic Jackson capitalised on his lost momentum to squeeze past at Surtees for seventh.

Chris Smiley turned in one of the strongest performances of the season closer, charging all the way up to 11th from his 28th place grid slot.

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Final Championship Classification

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Alasdair Lindsay is a Regular Contributor to TCF and can be found on twitter at @AlasdairLindsay
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