Reigning champion Sutton takes pole for Thruxton season opener after frenetic qualifying session

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Jakob Ebrey Photography
Ash Sutton on track during the 2021 season opener at Thruxton - Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Reigning Drivers’ Champion, Ash Sutton will be on pole position for Round One of the 2021 British Touring Car Championship at Thruxton after a frenetic qualifying session with interchanging conditions.

Sutton will be joined by BTC Racing’s Josh Cook and one of his main championship rivals, Colin Turkington for Team BMW who after being off the pace for most of the day secured a last minute effort for the top three.

They will be followed by Tom Ingram (Ginsters EXCELR8 with who initially took pole on the chequered flag followed by Rory Butcher (Toyota Gazoo Racing UK), Jake Hill (MB Motorsport), Gordon Shedden (Halfords Racing with Cataclean), Ollie Jackson (MB Motorsport) and Chris Smiley (Ginsters EXCELR8 with who make up the top ten.

While, Jason Plato (Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing) sits alongside Dan Cammish (BTC Racing), Carl Boardley (Laser Tools Racing), Adam Morgan (Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport) and Jack Goff (Team HARD. With Autobrite Direct) as the top 15 concludes.

The start of the session saw Ingram setting the early pace in his new Hyundai i30N Fastback posting a best time of 1:20.638. Only for reigning champion Ash Sutton to take the lead straight after with a 1.20.617 as times began to tumble early on at the Hampshire circuit.

Josh Cook took the lead with 15 minutes to go in the session knocking off +0.242s off Sutton’s initial pole time with 1.20.375.

Cook improved to 1:20.375 but Sutton returned to the top of the times with 1:20.169 with just over 10 minutes to go.

Dan Cammish surged into third with 1:20.393 in his guest outing to join his teammate for this weekend, Josh Cook as well as the reigning champion.

Then in another section of interchanging times, Tom Oliphant stole pole from Jake Hill with 1:19.786 after the MB Motorsport driver took top spot initially but this didn’t last long with 1:19.468 reached by Rory Butcher.

With 6 minutes to go, Jake Hill found an absolute best lap of 1.19.023 to head back in front. Rory Butcher hit the front again though once more with 1:18.835 which was -0.188s ahead of Hill.

Ash Sutton was +0.017s behind Butcher but gaining more pace as the minutes ticked down to the session concluding and the best seemingly came on the chequered flag, a 1.18.718 saw Ingram head to the top of the times by a tenth of a second.

Jake Hill who ended up 6th would have felt aggrieved with the Ford Focus ST tracking Jason Plato’s Vauxhall Astra only for the returning double champion to head into the pits as the former was on a potential pole lap.

But the best was yet to come as it was Sutton who then claimed it with a time of 1.18.305 ahead of Cook who improved into second followed by Colin Turkington +0.362s behind who emerged into the top three.

2021 British Touring Car Championship – Qualifying – Thruxton

1       Ashley SUTTON (GBR) Laser Tools Racing 1:18.305
2       Josh COOK (GBR) BTC Racing +0.053s
3       Colin TURKINGTON (GBR) Team BMW +0.362s
4       Tom INGRAM (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with +0.413s
5       Rory BUTCHER (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +0.530s
6       Tom OLIPHANT (GBR) Team BMW +0.586s
7       Jake HILL (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +0.604s
8       Gordon SHEDDEN (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +0.810s
9       Ollie JACKSON (GBR) MB Motorsport accelerated by Blue Square +1.641s
10     Chris SMILEY (GBR) Ginsters EXCELR8 with +1.740s
11     Jason PLATO (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +1.973s
12     Dan CAMMISH (GBR) BTC Racing +2.088s
13     Carl BOARDLEY (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +2.408s
14     Adam MORGAN (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +2.458s
15     Jack GOFF (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +2.630s
16     Daniel ROWBOTTOM (GBR) Halfords Racing with Cataclean +2.677s
17     Jade EDWARDS (GBR) PHSC with BTC Racing +2.969s
18     Stephen JELLEY (GBR) Team BMW +3.171s
19     Árón TAYLOR-SMITH (IRL) Team HARD. with HUB Financial Solutions +3.172s
20     Tom CHILTON (GBR) Car Gods with Ciceley Motorsport +3.310s     
21     Aiden MOFFAT (GBR) Laser Tools Racing +3.547s
22     Daniel LLOYD (GBR) Adrian Flux with Power Maxed Racing +4.065s
23     Sam OSBORNE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +4.350s
24     Andy NEATE (GBR) Racing with Wera & Photon Group +4.574s
25     Rick PARFITT (GBR) EXCELR8 with +5.460s
26     Sam SMELT (GBR) Toyota Gazoo Racing UK +5.547s
27     Glynn GEDDIE (GBR) Team HARD. with Autobrite Direct +6.152s
28     Jack BUTEL (GBR) EXCELR8 with +6.826s
29     Nicolas HAMILTON (GBR) ROKiT Racing with iQuoto Online Trading +6.882s

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Head British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) writer for The Checkered Flag - passionate about Motorsport from a young age, also writes predominately about Darts, Tennis and Basketball for other publications full time.
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