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Good points haul for Adrian Flux Subaru Racing pair at Croft
 
Adrian Flux Subaru Racing’s Ashley Sutton and Senna Proctor endured a challenging trio of races at Croft Circuit this weekend (15-16 June), although they gained a solid run of points finishes as the Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) travelled North to Yorkshire.

Mixed weather conditions and a newly surfaced track met BMR Racing on Saturday and tireless setup work from the Subaru manufacturer team left the Adrian Flux backed squad feeling optimistic heading into qualifying.

Ash would be starting his 100th BTCC race carrying 36kg of success ballast for qualifying and the first race, as he sat 4th in the overall championship standings whilst Senna would be weight free.

It was a session that was plagued by no fewer than 5 red flag stoppages.  Most of the halts to proceedings were due to a number of cars making contact with the foam recticel barriers, although it was pole setter Andrew Jordan’s off that would cause the session to eventually be cut short with over 6 minutes still remaining on the clock.  New rules now mean that those drivers who cause red flag stoppages have their fastest lap time removed. Luckily for Jordan although he lost his quickest lap time, his second fastest lap was still enough to hang onto the top spot.  2017 BTCC Champion Ash who has a history of good results at Croft was one of the lucky ones who managed to set a quick lap with his best time of 1:22.101 that was good enough for 6th with Senna setting a time not far short with a 1:22.490 placing him 11th on the grid for the first of the three races on Sunday.

With Sunday morning came more mixed weather conditions as sunshine and showers were forecast and we were hoping that rain for the last race of the day would come true as this is where the Subaru Levorg shines at its best at Croft.

Both Ash and Senna got good starts off the line for the first fifteen-lap encounter of the day and by the time they got to the first corner Ash had nestled in 6th behind Tom Oliphant.  Senna was two abreast as he headed into Hawthorn for the first time and lost out, as a result, dropping down one place back to 12th.  Ash then lost a couple of places on the back straight to Ollie Jackson and was 8th by the time they reached the Jim Clark Esses with Senna gaining a place and back up to 11th.  It wasn’t long before he lost that place again to Ingram on the back straight as the Levorgs clearly suffered from lack of straight-line speed. Meanwhile, Jordan had extended his lead in the BMW by 1.9 seconds at the end of lap 2. Ash was soon on the tail of Dan Cammish in the Honda and was waiting for a late braking corner opportunity which soon came as he dived up the inside at the Hairpin and contact was made, so Ash took the decision to give the place back, as Senna lost another place and was back to 13th.  Ollie Jackson made contact with one of the recticel barriers losing a place in the process to Cammish and it was his bumper that Ash had now latched onto the back of. Once again Ash tried the same move at the Hairpin and was unable to make the move stick. With Jackson having suffered damage Ash was soon followed Cammish through to pass him at the Chicane and back into 7th.  The safety car was then deployed for a stricken Rob Collard and Nick Hamilton allowing the cars to bunch up behind leader Jordan as Jackson succumbed to his damage meaning his Ford would also need to be retrieved.  This resulted in a lengthy delay and three laps were added to the race distance as the safety car came in at the end of lap 12. Senna was soon back into 13th although he then ran wide at the chicane losing a couple of positions and then another place on the straight as Sam Tordoff had the better power run.  However, there was then contact between Jelley and Aidan Moffat which held up Tordoff in the process and Senna was through to 15th and back in the points. Ash made another attempt to get past Cammish at the hairpin but once again couldn’t make it stick as they entered their final lap and Ash eventually took the chequered flag in 7th with Senna in 15th. It was Jordan that took the win.

For race two Ash would carry 18kg of success ballast and again Senna was weight free.  It was lights out for the second time of the day and both Subaru Levorgs made good starts.  By the time the front runners reached the Chicane for the first time, there was contact between a side by side Tom Oliphant and Tom Chilton sending them both off circuit with Ash having to take evasive action to narrowly avoid the pair.  Oliphant then lost control allowing Ash through and into 5th.  Senna meanwhile was up to 13th however at the end of the straight he lost out and was back to 14th as Ash lost a place to Jackson and back to 6th.  Senna made a place up again through Tower Bend as there was contact between Jelley and Rory Butcher.  A fully weighted Jordan was once again getting away out in front with a staggering 1.6-second lead and it wasn’t long before his teammate Colin Turkington was behind him in 2nd in another of the heavily weighted BMW’s, despite Chris Smiley defending his position to hold him off for as long as possible.  Ash was now crawling all over the back of Chilton to try and make his way through to 5th whilst Senna was trying to find a way past Butcher for 13th.  By lap 7 Jordan’s lead was now up to 4.9 seconds with Turkington now catching him and being over half a second quicker than anyone else on circuit and setting fastest laps.  Ash then lost out at the Hairpin to Matt Neal and found himself back in 7th and the following lap made the same move on Chilton and grabbed back 6th place.  Senna did exactly the same move on Butcher the following lap to grab the 14th position he’d just lost on the straight. Ash soon found himself on the back of Smiley once more and tried to find a way past at Complex but contact was made and Ash backed out and lost the momentum on the straight before sticking himself back on his bumper again at the Chicane to try and nip up the inside. On Lap 14 Ash was once again alongside Smiley coming into the Chicane and tried to repeat the move but still couldn’t find a way past. On the very final lap Ash persevered and having the inside line at the Complex set himself up to make the move on Smiley and contact was made which resulted in Smiley going off circuit.  Jordan took the win with Turkington in 2nd a massive 10 seconds ahead of 3rd place finisher Cammish in the Honda. Ash crossed the line in 5th with Senna taking the flag in 13th.

With just the reverse grid encounter left it was the number 9 ball that was drawn meaning that 9th place finisher Chilton would be on pole position and Ash would start from 5th.  Then came the news that Ash had received a post-race penalty for an incident with Smiley in race 2 thus demoting him 5 places on the grid and back to 10th.  We appealed the decision, but it was upheld.

Our prayers were then answered as the heavens opened leaving a very wet track.  By the time the BTCC cars had formed on the grid the rain had stopped and with the new track surface proven to dry very quickly it was a bit of a gamble on our tyre choice but we played safe and opted for wet tyres for both Adrian Flux Subaru Levorgs.

Both Ash and Senna would be looking to capitalise on the wet conditions and pick up more points in this race in order to put us in a good position for the next round at Oulton Park where we will round off the first half of the season. Good starts were made once again, and Ash was 9th by the time they reached Tower for the first time with Senna 15th.   Ash made up a place into 8th and once again found himself on the tail of Dan Cammish whilst Senna had also gained a place into 14th.  The safety car was deployed on lap 4 to retrieve a stricken Jack Goff and the race was restarted on lap 6. By the end of the lap Ash took the inside line once again at the Chicane and nips past Cammish and into 7th.  Chilton meanwhile remained in the lead. Ash repeated the move at the Chicane on lap 8, this time on Turkington in the BMW and into 6th and two laps later he pulled the same move past Jordan and into 5th whilst Senna was now up to 12th. Ash was now trying to find a way past Matt Neal in the Honda and he made the move stick once again at the Chicane and into 4th place, a position he held until the chequered flag with Senna crossing the line in a solid 12th.  The race was won by Chilton.

Ash leaves Croft Circuit sitting 3rd in the drivers championship standings.  This championship position isn’t a true reflection of our time at Croft, it was more to do with the bad luck that everyone else endured over the weekend along with the consistency of point scoring positions at earlier rounds.

The Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship now takes us to Oulton Park in Cheshire for rounds 13, 14 and 15 on the weekend of the 29th and 30th June.

 

Gerry Bucke, Adrian Flux General Manager, said:

“Despite experiencing a number of setbacks this weekend, Team BMR certainly kept pushing in every round of racing at Croft. Both drivers managed to stay focused and did what they could to keep the pressure on.

“There may not have been any podium finishes for Ash and Senna. But Ash has still come away 3rd in the overall standings and Senna is getting there with the Subaru’s rear-wheel drive.

“Looking forward to seeing what Oulton Park has in store for us at the end of the month.”

 

Ash Sutton said:

“Croft wasn’t what we were expecting going on previous years. I was looking to have some solid results in terms of podiums but ultimately, we just didn’t have the pace to achieve that. We still picked up a good haul of points which has kept us in the mix.

“Huge thanks to the Adrian Flux Subaru Racing guys for nailing the car in terms of setup, the car was on rails and that was giving us a leg up. When the heavens opened come race three that was a blessing in disguise, especially after the grid penalty, as it meant we could claw our way back up to counteract starting from P10. I believe without the penalty we could have been chasing a podium if not a win!”

 

Senna Proctor said: 

“It was a good weekend for me all in all, we managed to qualify near the front which makes life a lot easier. Three points finishes was a good achievement considering our gear change issue with the electric gear cut in race one putting us on the back foot. Roll on Oulton Park in two weeks’.

 

Photo Credit – Jakob Ebrey Photography