BTCC: Sutton takes pole in chaotic Qualifying at Thruxton

Reigning BTCC champion Ash Sutton got his campaign to a great start with pole for the opening race of the season at Thruxton. Image courtesy of the British Touring Car Championship.

Reigning BTCC Champion Ash Sutton claimed pole position for the season opening event at Thruxton in a hectic qualifying session.

The classic British weather had played a part in Free Practice, and made it’s presence known again in Qualifying.

So with damp conditions and the only qualifying of the year with no success ballast onboard, it was setup to be an exciting session, and it didn’t disappoint.

It was 2018 title runner up Tom Ingram who was first to set the timing screens alight.

Ingram took his new Hyundai to a 1:21,037, edging BTC Racing’s Josh Cook by just 0.055.

Ingram then improved on his second run to a 1:20.638, only to be edged by reigning champion Ash Sutton.

Sutton’s Infiniti edged the Hyundai by just 0.021 seconds to go fastest.

Adam Morgan, a Thruxton specialist, then moved his new BMW 330i M Sport into 3rd place.

At the halfway point in the session, it was Cook who returned to the top of the time sheets.

Cook moved the benchmark down to a 1:20.375, edging fellow Honda Civic runner Gordon Sheddon in 2nd.

But again it was Sutton who was fastest, posting a 1:20.169 as conditions continued to improve.

Dan Cammish, who is making a guest appearance with BTC Racing this weekend, moved into 3rd, just 2 tenths away from Sutton’s benchmark.

Conditions Turn to Create Hectic Finish

But as conditions improved, teams started sending their cars out on the slick tyres.

Jake Hill in the Ford Focus was the first to get the slicks to work, posting a 1:20.077.

However, Hill’s time at the top was short lived, as BMW’s Tom Oliphant went fastest on a 1:19.786.

Rory Butcher was next to go fastest, moving his Toyota Corolla onto a 1:19.468 as times started to tumble.

Hill moved the goal posts once again, smashing in a 1:19.023, but it was unlikely to stay fastest.

Butcher confirmed this moments later, becoming the first man into the 1:18’s, two tenths clear of Hill.

Ingram was the next to move the target time, setting a 1:18.718 to pip his former team.

But as it had been the whole session, Sutton would not accept any where but first.

The reigning champion smashed Ingram’s time, setting a 1:18.305, to take pole position.

Josh Cook managed to get himself onto the front row, missing out on pole by just 0.053.

4 time Champion Colin Turkington managed to stick his BMW into 3rd place with his last effort.

WSR had looked to be struggling with the wetter conditions, but the move to slick tyres aided Turkington to his effort.

Ingram ended up in 4th place, ahead of Butcher, Oliphant and Hill, who had all been earlier fighting for the top places.

Gordon Shedden marked his return to BTCC with a solid 8th place, ahead of Ollie Jackson and Chris Smiley completing the top 10.

Outside the top 10, Jason Plato returned with an 11th place ahead of Cammish in 12th.

Adam Morgan eventually ended up in 14th position, ahead of Jack Goff in 15th.

Jade Edwards was an impressive 17th, despite a trip to the barrier late in the session.