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BTCC title leader Ash Sutton set for 'crunch time' at Brands

Thursday, September 28 2017

Title contender Ashley Sutton could be crowned champion in only his second season at this weekend's Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship finale at Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (30 September-1 October).

It's been a remarkable rise for the 23-year-old, even more so considering his Subaru Levorg was off the pace at the start of the season. Ash left Brands Hatch in April without a single point to his name, but following six wins, he's now leading title rival Colin Turkington by ten points.

"The Subaru has been transformed over the season from the start of the year," Ash said. "We have managed to get a hold of it and adapt the car to all the things they have thrown at us this season. It hasn't been plain sailing but the car and team give me the best confidence entering the last round."

Leading the standings does have its disadvantages, however, and under the BTCC's success ballast rules, Ash's Subaru will go into qualifying and race one laden with 75kgs of added weight - nine more than Turkington's BMW.

"Carrying the ballast will hurt any car's performance," Ash said. "I feel we can manage it quite well in the racing, but when I entered Silverstone with full success ballast it made life a little harder. It's our weakest circuit on the calendar and it was like driving round with the handbrake pulled up one click."

Very little fazes Ash, even being up against double champion Turkington, who is a veteran of the last four title showdowns. "Being up against a former champion doesn't add any more pressure," he said. "It's just another name sticker on a different car. Yes I am still learning, but I am a fast learner."

Last year, Turkington drove the Subaru to two wins at Brands Hatch in a last-ditch effort to steal the title, but in the second of these he was under pressure from then team-mate Jason Plato. Jason has publically offered Ash his full support, but has also revealed that he receives a bonus for every race victory, so does Sutton expect Plato to move aside? "That is a question for Jason," he said.

"I have had great support from all my team mates this year and I know they are behind me heading into the last race. I believe we are there to race but it's now crunch time, every point counts."

If Ash wins the title on Sunday, it will continue a remarkable run from him in the BTCC paddock. He's won titles in the supporting Formula Ford, Renault UK Clio Cup and the headline act in each of the last three seasons. "Whatever I set out to do, I do it in the best way possible," he said. "That's been the exact same in any championship I have been in; I plan to set targets and then achieve them and it has been no different this year. I came into this season going for the championship, just as I did last year with the Jack Sears Trophy."

Standing on the BTCC champions' podium again this weekend will provide Ash with another great Brands Hatch memory, not that he needs them. "The Brands Hatch GP circuit is one of my two favourites," said the Essex-born driver. "I have always gone well here and I can't wait to get back to home turf."

Tickets for the BTCC at Brands Hatch on 30 September-1 October are available on the gate for £15 on Saturday and £34 on Sunday with free entry for under-13s. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click   here.