Sutton, who won Saturday’s penultimate round, started from pole position but his BMR Restart-backed Team Pyro car was under constant attack from the Finesse Motorsport-run machine of sensational newcomer Paul Streather.
Streather led several times during the race but in the end Sutton muscled his way past to take the victory. Their battle allowed Dan Holland (WDE Motorsport) and Luke Kidsley (JamSport Racing) to cross the line within a second of them in third and fourth places.
Behind, Ben Palmer, like Streather making his UK Clio Cup debut this weekend, held off Tom Grundy (JamSport) as they finished in fifth and sixth positions. Palmer had very impressively come through from 18th on the grid... In the closing stages, both were able to pass Pyro’s Hand who later said a suspension problem with his car had cost him pace during the race.
Having gone into the race 11 points behind Hand, Sutton has emerged from it five points ahead when the ‘two-dropped-scores’ rule is applied. He becomes the first driver to win the UK Clio Cup title in their first season since 2003.
Sutton commented: “What a way to win such a prestigious title as the Renault UK Clio Cup. The battle with Streather was fantastic – I’m sure it looked very exciting on ITV! And I also had to try and keep an eye on where Ash was. I knew if I won and he was outside the top four then it was mine but not until we got across the line and I saw the other three behind me and that he wasn’t there did I start to celebrate in the car.
“It’s just the most fantastic championship – you can see why so many drivers to have come from the UK Clio Cup have gone on to great things – and right now I would love to come back and defend my title in 2016 and see if I can improve my results from this season.”
An elated Streather said: “That got very intense at times with Sutton and I could sense just how desperate he was – obviously he really needed the win to stand a chance of the title. But to come into the UK Clio Cup and take a second on our first weekend with Finesse way exceeds our expectations. I’m delighted.”
For Holland, third place marked his second podium result in as many events. He added: “That’s a great way to end my season, and on my home track too. Kidsley really made me work for it but the way we were catching Sutton and Streather… another lap and who knows, it could have been even more.”
CLICK HERE for the race result.
CLICK HERE for final championship points.
Behind Hand in seventh and closing right up on him at the finish were duelling Team Cooksport team-mates Rory Collingbourne and Alex Sedgwick. Tom Butler (20Ten) and Charles Ladell (WDE) completed the finishers, the latter after two hairy off-track moments.
Of eight retirements, Paul Rivett (WDE) and Jon Maybin (Cooksport) were high-profile casualties. Both had been challenging inside the top five – Rivett having come through from 19th on the grid – but were forced out with damage to their cars. Out at the start was Rory Green (WDE) who span into a gravel trap.
Mark Howard (Pyro) followed him in another gravel lap two laps later. Josh Price (Pyro) then stopped in the pit lane while Sam Watkins (20Ten), Tom Witts (Maximum Motorsport) and George Jackson (Cooksport) also failed to make the chequered flag…