Rockingham BTCC: Sutton controls Race 2, extends points lead
Ash Sutton claimed his sixth BTCC win of the season in the second race at Rockingham to extend his points lead.
Sutton breezed around the outside of teammate James Cole at the start of the race and, after surviving a safety car period, eased away to claim a comfortable win.
From third on the grid, the Team BMR driver had been expected to easily dispatch the Eurotech Honda of second-place starter Jack Goff on the run through the first corner, but Goff held firm and, dipping below the white line on the banked Turn 1, held position.
But Sutton hung his rear-wheel-drive Subaru around the outside at the Turn 2 Deene hairpin and cleared both Goff and Race 1-winning teammate James Cole in his Subaru to snatch a lead.
Sutton pulled out a lead of two seconds on the first lap as Cole - saddled with 75 kilograms of success ballast - held up the chasing pack before the MG of Josh Cook dived into second at Deene on lap two.
Cole ran wide shortly afterwards and dropped to seventh, promoting Mat Jackson to third.
But Sutton’s huge lead was wiped out by the deployment of the safety car, which was called out after Gordon Shedden stopped out on track with broken suspension following contact with Rob Austin.
With Shedden’s Honda recovered, Sutton bolted on the subsequent restart to avoid attack from any of the train behind.
The points leader offered his rivals a sniff as he locked up at the Tarzan hairpin on the first restart lap, but Cook and Jackson were only bunched up by that moment and Sutton soon pulled away again.
His pace on the restart, combined with his rivals conspiring to slow each other’s progress, allowed Sutton to pull an unassailable gap in the middle of the race.
Sutton eventually crossed the line 2.432s clear of his nearest rival, and now leads the drivers’ championship by 10 points.
Jackson brought his Ford home in second, just fending off the WSR BMW of Colin Turkington over the line.
Motorbase driver Jackson briefly dropped to fourth after the restart, with an unsuccessful challenge for second against Cook allowing the Team Dynamics Honda of Matt Neal to grab third.
Neal attempted a similar move on Cook at the Deene hairpin a lap later, but as Cook turned in he and Neal touched, sending both onto the grass on the outside of the corner and allowing Jackson to slip into second.
Turkington had been bottled up behind Cole for much of the race but forced a way past the Subaru before dispatching Adam Morgan and Goff to move into third.
He then whittled down Jackson’s advantage and was on the tail of the Ford at the start of the final lap, but couldn’t force a way through.
Jason Plato brought his Team BMR Subaru home in fourth ahead of Goff and Morgan, with the second and third WSR BMWs of Andrew Jordan (who will start the reversed-grid race from pole) and Rob Collard seventh and eighth.
Tom Ingram completed a remarkable drive from the back of the field to finish ninth in his Speedworks Motorsport Toyota, having passed Chris Smiley on the final lap.
Rockingham BTCC: Cole takes first win, leads Subaru 1-2
Rockingham BTCC: Jordan triumphs in final race