Ash Sutton became the 2017 British Touring Car Champion at Brands Hatch following some thrilling racing that saw Colin Turkington move from fifteenth position to first place in race two then lose all title hopes after contact with Mat Jackson took the WSR driver out of contention in race three. This is how the action unfolded:
It was victory for Aidan Moffat in the first race of the final round of British Touring Cars despite a small spin early on due to the damp conditions. While Tom Ingram took second place and Ashley Sutton completed the podium in third place. There was less luck for pole sitter Jack Goff who span out at Paddock Hill in the first lap, hitting the tyre wall, but rejoined the race, went on to overtake Colin Turkington but eventually finished in twelfth place. Title contender Turkington who started in seventeenth place lost pace from the off dropping back two places, eventually pushed back, particularly in the last few laps but was only able to finish fifteenth, earning one point. The greasy track also caused problems for Adam Morgan, Stephen Jelley and Rob Austin. Austin who was sitting in fifth span out then dropped to seventh place, finally finishing in ninth place. But for the front of the pack it was a clear run, the trio running tight throughout, a good fourteen seconds ahead of the front of the rest of the field. For Moffat, the youngest BTCC driver it was his second win in what has been a tricky season at times but a great finish for the 21 year old.
Race two found Colin Turkington make decisive moves to stay in the championship, incredibly moving from fifteenth place to first leaving six points between himself and Ash Sutton who finished in twelfth place. Gordon Shedden and Matt Neal completed the podium in second and third place respectively. Ash Sutton started dropping places from the beginning moving from third to sixth. Rob Austin meanwhile tried to pass Matt Neal but was passed by Jack Goff and Colin Turkington, Goff was then quickly passed by Turkington who moved into ninth passing Dave Newsham. The top of the field positions were maintained until on lap six Mat Jackson passed Tom Ingram, moving into second place. By this time Turkington was on the tail of fellow Championship contender Ash Sutton, quickly passing him, while Ash Sutton took eighth place from Rob Austin. Turkington continued his domination campaign moving into sixth and right behind Matt Neal. At the front Matt Jackson fought hard against valiant Aidan Moffat who had held his nerve throughout defending his position. Turkington was held off by both Hondas until lap 10 when he passed Neal and Tom Ingram. Moffat continued to defend his position as Turkington moved into third, then swiftly taking second place and sat on Aidan Moffat’s tail, until taking his chance tapping Moffat and passing him moving into first place. A move that was was penalised post race earning Turkington a £500 fine and three penalty points. The second race proved that Turkington was not ready to relinquish his chance at the BTCC title without a fight, setting race three up to be a thriller.
Michael Epps began the race in pole position but lost it swiftly to Rob Austin who maintained first place throughout taking his first win of the season in the final outing for the Toyota Avensis before Handy Motorsport move over to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta next season. On lap two Mat Johnson hit the kerb then made contact with Colin Turkington causing race ending damage to the BMW and a heartbreaking end to Turkingtons championship campaign, instantly handing the championship to Ash Sutton. In the same lap Senna Procter span off the track into the gravel, bringing the safety car out, shortly after which Matt Neal gave way allowing Gordon Shedden through but briefly defending off Mat Jackson, before the Team Shredded Wheat Racing driver succeeded persisted and managed to pass Neal. Ash Sutton then moved into third place passing Michael Epps. Matt Simpson who had been moving solidly further up the field ran wide at Paddock Hill Bend losing multiple places. While Tom Ingram passed Michael Epp on the thirteenth lap placing Ingram third in the championship. Rob Austin ran the race out on his own untroubled by the rest of the field with Jack Goff three seconds behind him and Ash Sutton running in third.
Outgoing champion Gordon Shedden finished in sixth place with team mate Matt Neal finishing in eighth. While it was a bad day at the office for Jason Plato who finished twenty-second, also finishing twenty eighth in race one and twenty fourth in race two.
The Independent Drivers Championship was won by Tom Ingram, while BMW took the Constructors and Team Championship title. Power Maxed Racing’s Senna Procter lifted the prestigious Jack Sears rookies trophy, drawing his maiden campaign in BTCC to a fantastic close.
The Dunlop British Touring Car Championship returns to Brands Hatch on April 7th/8th.
Allison Remzi Images ©Andy Fitzpatrick