Ashley Sutton’s second win at Oulton Park ended a sensational debut weekend for the reigning BTCC champion in the TCR UK series.
Sutton completed a perfect weekend in his Team Pyro run Verizon Connect Honda Civic TCR to win Race 2 of the day to go along with his victory in the first race and his pole position in the morning qualifying session. With points on offer for qualifying as well as the races in the TCR UK series, Sutton took all 91 points on offer. His winning margin of 9 seconds was not quite as big as his 16 seconds in the earlier race but Sutton was protecting his tyres in the 25-minute encounter just in case the safety car needed to make an appearance and closed the pack back up.
This time Sutton led a Team Pyro 1-2 as Ollie Taylor sensationally made his way from eighth on the grid to pass the Hyundai of Lewis Kent on the very last corner of the race to take second. Taylor made a steady start to finish the first lap in sixth after making two places at the expense of the WestCoast Racing pair of Andreas and Jessica Backman. Andreas’ car would pull into the pits at the end of the second lap with gearbox trouble.
The end of the first lap saw Sutton lead by 2.7 seconds with Kent second followed by the only remaining DPE Alfa Giulietta of Derek Palmer (team mate Robert Gilmour crashed heavily in Race 1) in third. After a drive to second on the road in Race 1 being taken away by a penalty that eventually dropped him to fourth, Palmer and the team were desperate for a good result but the podium position was snatched away at Druids on lap 6 as the car ended in the barriers with what appeared to be a mechanical failure.
The next big action of the race came just half a lap later as Lloyd made an attempt to pass Stewart Lines’ CUPRA at Cascades. Lloyd was not far enough alongside and in an incident akin to his pass on Taylor at Castle Combe, he pushed Lines into a half spin. Lines was able to continue but dropped to sixth behind Jessica Backman with the contact to be investigated after the race. Lloyd’s slow exit from the corner meant Taylor pulled alongside on the way down the next straight and a brilliantly brave move saw him cut in front of Lloyd around the outside through Island Bend.
At the end of lap seven the gap from Kent in second to Taylor in third was nearly four seconds but that began to come down at a rate of around 7/10ths a lap with Taylor pulling Lloyd along with him. With four minutes of the race to go the trio were together almost as one. On the very last lap Taylor had a great run through Druids and under the Warwick Bridge. Kent defended on the inside going into Lodge but his tyres were shot and he ran wide on the exit allowing Taylor past on the run to the chequered flag. Kent was dejected but ultimately a podium to round out the day is a good result for Essex and Kent Motorsport, the only one-car team racing today.
Lloyd came fourth but the investigation into the incident with Lines could still alter that, or at least possibly see a penalty applied to his championship points. Jessica Backman took her VW Golf to a lonely fifth with Lines recovering to sixth. Tim Docker was the last of the finishers in seventh on a day when eleven drivers took part but only nine were able to start the second race.
So TCR UK has seen a new star to its series (but certainly not to motorsport in general) in Ashley Sutton. Currently this is only a one-off drive in place of Finlay Croker who had to miss this round due to business commitments. Hopes are that he will return to the series again as soon as possible. Sutton himself hints that his BTCC team BMR, run by Warren Scott, are very interested in the series for the future. Could a BMR TCR UK team appear for 2019 alongside their BTCC efforts? Here’s hoping as the series would benefit massively from Sutton’s and BMR’s attendance.
So TCR UK has just two weekends left to run in its inaugural season. Next up is Croft on the 8th and 9th of September followed by the finale at Donington in October. The championship looks to be Lloyd’s for the taking but we still have a lot of good racing to come before the final chequered flag drops. Follow it all here at Overtake Motorsport.
Feature Image Credit – Gary Jones