Mid-way through the season the pair have become embroiled in a tense fight for the crown with Maximum Motorsport’s Ant Whorton-Eales.
Notably at Thruxton Hand and Sutton took each another off the track fighting for the race win at the last bend. They survived the skirmish and, although they remain friends, do not work together as closely as before.
Howard, a Renault 5 Turbo champion in the early Nineties, has had a perfect view of the way both drivers go about their racing since joining Pyro at Thruxton’s rounds in early May.
“They are absolute winners,” he said. “Both want to win all the time, are massively competitive by nature and want the absolute best they can get out of any situation.
“For me, Mark Hunt deserves a medal for managing two strong characters in such a constructive way. It will be very interesting to see how that evolves in the second half of season – it’s one heck of a management conundrum.”
Hunt says the Hand-Sutton inter-term rivalry has echoes of the past for Pyro, but the situation is not has inflammatory as some might believe.
“It’s nice having two drivers of their calibre. It can be difficult, but they are both sensible and know what they are trying to achieve. Sure it got a bit close at Thruxton but that sorted itself out.
“We’ve had two or three fast drivers all in the same year in the past – Aron Smith, Jack Goff and Josh Files plus Aron and Phil Glew – and the best thing to do just be totally open, honest and equal with them all.
“Hand and Sutton… they are probably the two best we’ve had as they are so open and honest in debriefs. OK, they work separately in that respect, but still all their data is shared and they still do track walks together. It’s not been too fraught…”
Despite their on-going rivalry, Hand’s and Sutton’s openness has also impressed Howard who currently leads the Masters Cup for older drivers.
He added: “Their work ethic and professionalism really has to be admired as has their openness and willingness to help an older driver like me who’s come into their team. They always offer assistance to help me go faster. The rest is up to me…”