Sutton leads BTCC charge into Silverstone
|Author: Simon Melluish||Published: 10th September 2017 08:36|
The 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship is speeding towards its conclusion with an all-important outing at Silverstone next weekend (16-17 September 2017) and there has been another shift in power atop the standings.
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing's Ash Sutton tops the winners' chart this season with a superb sixth victory taken last time out at Rockingham two weeks ago, and that was enough to propel him into pole position – heading the title tilt from Team BMW's double champion Colin Turkington, whom he leapfrogged during Rounds 22, 23 and 24. Twelve points separate the pair – a drop in the ocean with more than 130 still for the taking.
Though that duo lead the charge, five more are still in mathematical contention for the biggest prize in British motor sport. Third on the list is reigning champion Gordon Shedden, who saw his title ambitions take a dent with a 30th-placed finish and a did-not-finish at Rockingham, meaning he scored just four points in Corby. That said, the Honda man is used to a fightback and in each of the last two seasons, he's overcome a points deficit to take the BTCC trophy in race 30 of 30 – the final bout. He will know better than anybody that there's time for everything to change between now and then.
Silverstone has played host to many a pivotal moment in motor racing history down the years and the Northamptonshire venue may well play a key role in deciding just where the crown will be heading come the end of the season.
A full complement of 32 of the best tin-top racers around will once again take to the grid for Rounds 25, 26 and 27 of the campaign at the home of British motor sport. It's always a popular locale on the calendar, and all of the action will no doubt unfold in front of the packed grandstands and spectator banks that skirt the famous circuit.
Six of the best for Sutton
In just his second full campaign in Britain's premier series, Adrian Flux Subaru Racing's Ash Sutton has displayed many of the qualities that make champions. With six rounds left to race, he's leading the way in the standings and looking to follow up a Jack Sears Trophy victory in 2016 with the coveted Drivers' crown in 2017.
His credentials this season were underlined as early as Donington Park with a pair of podium finishes. With the Levorg finding its feet in his control, it didn't take long for Sutton to seal a first win of the season for the Japanese machine at the site of its maiden victory in the BTCC – Oulton Park.
The Essex racer thereafter ramped up his championship challenge, following up with victories at Croft, a stunning win-double at Snetterton, another one at Knockhill and a sixth last time around at Rockingham. Paired with a second-placed finish in the opening round there two weeks ago, and fifth in the finale, it was enough to propel him to the top of the charts – beyond previous leader, and two-time champ Colin Turkington.
No driver has taken to the top step of the rostrum on more occasions this season than Sutton, with Turkington and Gordon Shedden, second and third in the Drivers' standings respectively making three trips apiece to the winners' circle.
"I got a sniff of what it is like to be championship leader after race two at Snetterton but that soon changed – it wasn't for long," said Sutton. "I was very pleased to come away from the last one as the championship leader.
"The plan was to get there but to have a 12-point margin back to Colin (Turkington) in second is even better. I just need to keep going, and stay focussed.
"As long as we can match or better Colin's performance on track then it is definitely game on. I have a few personal tricks left up my sleeve for the remaining rounds of the season so roll on Silverstone!"
Power Maxed Racing's Senna Proctor has enjoyed a fine start to his BTCC career. Driving the new-to-the-championship Vauxhall Astra, he's made his mark on the Jack Sears Trophy for rookies and could be all-set to seal the honours this weekend at Silverstone, such is his gap to second-placed Ant Whorton-Eales.
Team BMW, meanwhile, tops the Teams' tally, with BMW/West Surrey Racing heading the Manfacturers'/Constructors' standings. The former has a solid margin over Adrian Flux Subaru Racing in a bid to hold onto the crown taken by the squad's predecessor – Team JCT600 with GardX – while BMW/WSR is hoping to maintain its more slender 41-point gap to Honda/Team Dynamics.
BTC Norlin Racing is an outfit in fine fettle. The fledgling operation notched another trio of top-ten finishes last time out at Rockingham, matching its sterling efforts north of the border on 'home soil' for Dave Newsham at Knockhill prior. In Northamptonshire a fortnight ago, though, it was Chris Smiley that caught the eye – ninth and tenth for the Northern Irishman.
Timetable and Tickets
All three BTCC races on Sunday, 17 September – and the day’s other races – will be broadcast live and in high definition on ITV4. Those in attendance at the circuit can stay in touch with the commentary and live timing from every session, available at btcc.net/live throughout the weekend.
The support series on the TOCA package are also guaranteed to thrill, with a double-digit total of races set to entertain the crowds. The Renault UK Clio Cup, Porsche Carrera Cup GB, F4 British Championship and the Ginettas will all be appearing, making for a jam-packed weekend of truly unmissable racing.
Advance tickets can be booked online at www.silverstone.co.uk or via the hotline on 0844 3728 270. Tickets start at £12 with weekend passes costing £39 in advance, or Sunday race day tickets £29. Children aged 15 and under get in free.