BTCC champion Sutton tops in-season Thruxton test in Subaru Levorg

Reigning champion Ash Sutton topped the annual Thruxton British Touring Car Championship test in his Team BMR Subaru Levorg

BTCC champion Sutton tops in-season Thruxton test in Subaru Levorg

The 24-year-old clocked a 1m15.717s lap around the 2.356-mile circuit, which hosts the third meeting of the championship on May 19-20.

It is the only chance drivers get to test on the high-speed circuit all season.

Nine of the drivers went underneath the qualifying lap record of 1m16.040s, which was set by Matt Neal last season in his Team Dynamics Honda Civic Type R.

Sutton said he was stunned by the fastest lap he managed to record.

"I wasn't even going for a time," he said. "We were basically here to work through a programme and we did that, so to clock the fastest time is a real bonus."

Sutton, who is fifth in the championship after the opening three races at Brands Hatch last weekend, was using the older-specification Mountune engine in his Levorg, but said that the team was aiming to switch to the new Swindon Racing Engines-tuned version from the second round at Donington Park on April 28-29.

"Everybody was very fast today, but I think that is down to the cooler temperatures," said Sutton.

"I think it was allowing the engines to breath a bit better.

"We showed some remarkable speed given that we haven't done any testing pre-season."

Mike Bushell was second fastest in his Team Hard VW CC and 0.026 seconds adrift of Sutton, but said he felt there was more pace in the car.

"I think there is more to come from me as well as from the car, so I am delighted with the lap time we recorded," said the reigning Renault UK Clio Cup champion.

"I also did a race-long run to assess the drop off in the tyres, and they held up really well."

Neal was third in the new-shaped Honda Civic Type R but said he was still working on fine-tuning the set-up of the hatchback.

He caused two red flags during the morning's running with throttle problems.

"The engine was working well," said Neal. "But this is still a journey for us and there is a lot to learn about the car yet."

Round one winner Jack Goff was fourth fastest, even though he lost what would have been his fastest lap when the throttle on his Eurotech Racing Honda Civic Type R failed coming out of the chicane in the afternoon's one-hour session.

Twenty-five of the championship's 32 entrants took part in the running.

The absentees were Tom Ingram's Speedworks Toyota Avensis, Jake Hill's Team Hard VW CC, Ollie Jackson's AmD Tuning Audi S3, both the AmD Tuning MGs of Rory Butcher and Tom Boardman and the two BTC Norlin Honda Civics of Chris Smiley and James Nash.

Leading times

Position Driver Team Car Time
1. Ash Sutton Team BMR Subaru 1m15.717s
2. Mike Bushell Team Hard Volkswagen 1m15.743s
3. Matt Neal Team Dynamics Honda 1m15.811s
4. Jack Goff Eurotech Racing Honda 1m15.960s
5. Sam Tordoff Motorbase Performance Ford 1m15.962s
6. Tom Chilton Motorbase Performance Ford 1m15.979s
7. Josh Cook Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 1m15.981s
8. Dan Cammish Team Dynamics Honda 1m15.997s
9. Aiden Moffat Laser Tools Racing Mercedes 1m16.043s
10. Senna Proctor Power Maxed Racing Vauxhall 1m16.109s
11. Brett Smith Eurotech Racing Honda 1m16.187s
12. Colin Turkington WSR BMW 1m16.201s
13. Adam Morgan Ciceley Racing Mercedes 1m16.239s
14. Andrew Jordan WSR BMW 1m16.241s
15. Matt Simpson Eurotech Racing Honda 1m16.412s
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