Sutton had what the stats books will let you know was a record-equalling season within the British Touring Automobile Championship. However what was extra essential to him was the style of his fourth crown, and the truth that he grew to become the primary to win it in each entrance and rear-wheel-drive equipment.
His quartet of titles emulates Andy Rouse and Colin Turkington; his 12 wins from 30 races matches Alain Menu’s 12 from 24 in 1997. However the Swiss did that in an period of no success penalties, no reversed grids, no performance-balancing, no artificiality. No surprise Menu reckons Sutton would have made the grade as a top-line Tremendous Touring star.
The behind-the-scenes work that unlocked Sutton’s FWD potential
Ash Sutton makes no bones that key to his success is his relationship together with his engineer, Antonio Carrozza. Once they arrived from Group BMR/Laser Instruments at Motorbase Efficiency in 2022 to start out work with the Ford Focus ST, Sutton hadn’t raced a front-wheel-drive NGTC automotive since his rookie BTCC season in 2016; Carrozza had by no means engineered a FWD machine – in any respect.
On prime of that, the main target (ahem) was on implementing hybrid and all of the modifications that entailed. By October 2023, Sutton was a champion (once more) with the renamed Alliance Racing.
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Sutton has now gained the BTCC title with front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive equipment, changing into the primary to take action
“I feel there have been two components to the winter in 2021, early 2022,” recollects Carrozza. “I used to be coming right into a group the place there was quite a lot of front-wheel-drive experience. I didn’t know what that automotive wanted, so I couldn’t sit there and redesign it and say, ‘That is what it must have.’ It was mainly packaging the hybrid and ensuring that every little thing was practical, which it was.
“I then spent the primary half of the 12 months with Ash attempting to make the front-wheel-drive automotive do the entire issues that the rear-wheel-drive automotive did, and we had a improvement route that didn’t work. Summer season break occurred, and we had an opportunity to have a reset and a correct rethink.
“All of that studying from the second half of final 12 months fuelled a ‘proper, right here’s my to-do checklist, right here’s the issues which can be design-based, issues that I can’t do at a circuit, these are the following steps” Antonio Carrozza
“Should you cut up final 12 months into first half and second half of the season you possibly can see that they’re two totally different animals nearly – we hadn’t gained a race earlier than the summer season break. However then all of that studying from the second half of final 12 months fuelled a ‘proper, right here’s my to-do checklist, right here’s the issues which can be design-based, issues that I can’t do at a circuit, these are the following steps.’
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“There was a complete time acquire that we thought we might get, and we walked away from a two-day take a look at at Manufacturers Hatch having set a lap that was properly beneath the report, considering, ‘Ooh I’m undecided, possibly it was simply the day, possibly one thing was occurring track-wise that was totally different to when everybody else has been there.’ The primary probability you get to really see it’s qualifying at spherical one and… that was a pleasant weekend!”
And the remainder is historical past.
Picture by: JEP / Motorsport Images
A top-down rethink of the Ford Focus bundle over winter set Sutton on the trail to the 2023 BTCC title