Brands Hatch Season Finale
Sunday November 15 was the date for the final rounds of this year’s Kwik Fit British Touring car Championship. I’m excited to report that my Laser Tools Racing co-driver Ashley Sutton was crowned the 2020 BTCC Champion, lifting the most coveted title in British motorsport. And the team also came away with the Independent’s Team Championship trophy. What an outstanding season it has been for us, running the two brand new cars for the first time and pulling off the championship!
We certainly started the weekend with a bang after some very impressive lap times in Saturday’s free practice session — I was 4th on the timesheet and Ash in 2nd. Ash’s main rival in the championship, Colin Turkington was down in 14th.
Then onto the qualifying session: at the half way stage, quoting the ITV commentators, “It’s absolutely horrible out there!” After two red flags we ended up with a 10-minute shoot out. On the restart the two front wheel drive cars of Tom Ingram and Rory Butcher went to the top leaving Ash 3rd and myself in 13th.
It was wet — given the rivers running across parts of the circuit, everyone was worried about the potential for disaster. Luckily Ash got away well off the line before getting past Dan Cammish for 2nd on lap 2. Ash under guidance from the team over the radio sensibly decided to back off and keep 2nd, rather than risk everything for the win. Behind this dramatic drive, Colin Turkington was limited to 9th giving Ash the lead in the championship by a couple of points. Meanwhile I had enjoyed a fantastic midfield scrap bringing the car home in 14th.
As the cars went out to the grid on wet tyres, the sun came out, and after much soul searching, everybody swapped to slicks before the start. There was a dry line developing, but the rear wheeled cars are notoriously slow at getting heat into the tyres on a cold day. However I had a great race and lots of action in which I finished in 12th place. Ash enjoyed a resounding win with rival Colin in 3rd making it a 9 point gap as we went into the final race of the season. But then the drama, as the reverse grid was a blessing and a curse as number 12 was pulled out putting me on pole but pushing Ash back in 12th (Colin Turkington 9th).
Although the Race 2 win and fastest lap gave Ash much-needed points, as usual with the BTCC, the final race of the season, Race 3 was going to be the decider — who will win the 2020 BTCC title? Ash Sutton or Colin Turkington? Or even Dan Cammish? These three drivers were still in the mix, with Ash on 340 points, Colin on 331 and Dan on 318. That was two manufacturer’s teams versus Laser Tools Racing!
Although I started on pole, the front-wheel-drive cars have the advantage of quicker tyre warm-up and I fell back a few places. With Ash starting in 12th his goal was to get right behind Colin Turkington as quickly as possible. And this he did, then his Infiniti cruised past the BMW 3-Series, and shortly after, I managed to pass Turkington as well! So for most of the second half of Race 3 we were treated to the amazing sight of both our Laser Tools Racing Infinitis lapping together, giving Ash the security of not having to defend his position from behind.
At the end, it was car number 116, the Laser Tools Racing Infiniti of Ash Sutton that everyone was watching. Ash passed the chequered flag and achieved his second BTCC championship!
I was over the moon to see a true mate win the BTCC Championship — all the more special seeing what this family-run BTCC team has achieved since it started in 2014 with Laser Tools. It’s proved what we knew when we brought out that Infiniti Q50 last season. Been a hell of a learning curve for myself this year with my limited rear-wheel-drive experience but I come away happy with my improvements and look forward to the future. Well done again to Ash.
30 Nov 2020