Sutton will race a factory-entered MG for Triple Eight. And he will be joined in the Triple Eight line-up by Josh Cook, runner-up in 2014’s UK Clio Cup and who proved a revelation in his debut BTCC season in 2015. Cook also continues to run his own squad, Team Cooksport, in the UK Clio Cup for young drivers looking to follow a similar career path.
Sutton commented: “The UK Clio Cup is route number one – if you want to be a BTCC driver you need to be in a UK Clio Cup car. It’s the first place the BTCC teams look.
“The car is like a mini touring car and of course it is front-wheel-drive like most of the cars on the BTCC grid so you can simulate the driving style. Plus the racing is bumper-to-bumper – similar to the BTCC – so you feel comfortable making the jump and the competition is very intense so you learn how to look after yourself and handle situations.
"I am over the moon to be able to announce this news and now really looking ahead to the BTCC, but I’ll never forget my time in the UK Clio Cup and what it’s done for me.”
Notably Sutton and Cook become the latest pair of ex-UK Clio Cup drivers to wind up together in a top team on the BTCC grid in 2016. Indeed, as in recent seasons, a high percentage of this year’s BTCC entry list looks set to be populated by former Renault Sport racers…
Mat Jackson and Andrew Jordan (who raced in the championship in 2000 and 2007 respectively) have recently been announced as team-mates in the Motorbase outfit. Meanwhile Jack Goff, the 2012 UK Clio Cup Champion, will race for the crack WSR team. Among his team-mates is Sam Tordoff, a UK Clio Cup front-runner in 2009-10.
Jason Plato and Colin Turkington will line-up for the all-new factory Subaru team in this year’s BTCC. Much of Plato’s early race career was in Renaults and he won the manufacturer’s Spider sportscar title – the precursor to the modern-day UK Clio Cup – in 1996. The success led to him getting his big BTCC break, with Renault in its Williams-prepared Laguna model… Turkington contested the UK Clio Cup’s winter series in 2000 before moving straight into the BTCC.
Eurotech team-mates Jeff Smith and Martin Depper have also come from the UK Clio Cup while ‘fan favourites’ Rob Austin and Dan Welch previously competed in the UK Formula Renault single-seater category.
Renault Sport’s UK Motorsport Championship Manager Will Fewkes said: “News of Ashley’s and Josh’s BTCC drives is wonderful to hear and everyone within the UK Clio Cup wishes them both the very best. A factory team of Triple Eight’s magnitude does not choose its drivers lightly – it wants success – so Ashley’s and Josh’s appointments there really add extra credibility to the type of driver being produced by the UK Clio Cup.
“We are all looking forward very much to the new UK Clio Cup season alongside the BTCC at its events and of course seeing who – in front of the big crowds and a live ITV4 audience – can possibly emulate the achievements of Ashley, Josh and so many other greats to have come through the Renault Sport ranks.”
The UK Clio Cup’s first two races of 2016 take place at the Brands Hatch circuit in Kent on the weekend of Sat 2/Sun 3 April alongside the world-famous BTCC's opening three rounds of the new season.
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