Sutton’s BMR Restart-liveried Team Pyro car took the lead at the start and then drew clear for his second win of the season. He also set the race’s fastest lap time for two bonus points. His race was made all the easier as WDE Motorsport’s Rivett and Pyro’s Hand delayed one another in a nail biting fight for second position. Rivett, who had started from pole position, eventually came out ahead to take the place as Hand completed the podium in third.
SV Racing’s Jack Mitchell (West Kingsdown), Team Cooksport’s Charles Ladell (Ipswich) and Pyro’s Brett Smith (Wellingborough) were fourth, fifth and sixth ahead of Whorton-Eales in seventh. He had come through from the back of the grid in a rebuilt car after a crash in qualifying that means he will also start from last place when the cars line up tomorrow for the Clio Cup’s second race of the weekend.
Today’s result, though, means his championship lead over Hand is now down from 21 to just 12 points with Sutton just 17 further back. Rivett, fourth in the standings, is also still very much in touch having taken 12 points out Whorton-Eales today.
Sutton commented: “It’s how you wish every race could be – out in front with no pressure and you can control the pace and look after the car and tyres. It’s just the start I needed to my weekend.”
Rivett added: “That was a great race with Ash – very hard but very fair. Obviously it let Ashley get clear in front but it’s another strong result for me and very much keeps us right in the mix.”
Hand said: “I felt I was a lot quicker than Paul and could have challenged Ashley for the win. I could see him escaping but Paul put up great resistance – there were a few hairy moments between us but third is another good result for my championship.”
Elsewhere JamSport Racing’s Thomas Grundy (Dubai) took a career-best eighth, while tenth after starting from the pit lane for 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp (Towcester) means suddenly his fifth position in the standings is under threat from Mitchell and Ladell.
Paul Donkin (Bishop Auckland) and Peter Felix (Derby) were 12th and 14th on their championship returns for the SVR and 20Ten teams – the latter the first driver across the line the Masters Cup for older drivers.
Sunday's Clio Cup race at Croft is LIVE on ITV4 and starts at 1.50pm. The starting order at the front of that grid is Hand, Sutton, Rivett, Mitchell, Smith, Ladell, Stilp and Holland.
Click here for full race results.
Click here for latest points.