Ashley Sutton believes Croft Circuit’s crowds this weekend (Sat 27-Sun 28 June) are in for two gripping Renault UK Clio Cup races as the track will place extra demands on tyre wear while already offering several opportunities for rivals to overtake.
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Sutton is eager to put his recent race retirement at Oulton Park (pictured above) behind him and strike back in the title race. He’s dropped behind Team Pyro team-mate Ash Hand to third in the standings and now trails leader Ant Whorton-Eales by some 47 points.

Consider that prior to Oulton that gap had been as little as 13…

He is also acutely aware that more than two months have now passed since he last led a lap – his win in race one at Donington on 18 April.

“It shows just how fast it can turn around, doesn’t it?” said Sutton. “I’d been in a really good frame of mind going into Oulton but luck wasn’t with me in either race and you do need some luck in motor sport. Maybe some people haven’t had their bit of bad luck yet.

“I felt I could have won both races there. I had the same really good feeling I’d had with the car at Brands but on reflection maybe I made a move, certainly in race two, on Ant which wasn’t going to come off and it cost me.

“So that DNF and the seventh place at Donington after a time penalty – I’ve used my two dropped scores right there so need to crack on and think about strong results every time out from now on. I want to be back on the top step, preferably at Croft before we have the mid-season break. I’m chomping at the bit.”

Sutton clearly has high hopes for Croft’s two races. Last year from sixth places on both grids he took a win and a second place in the MSA Formula category that also races at touring car events – thereby dispelling the myth that overtaking in a ‘slicks and wings’ formula is night on impossible, particularly at such a tight circuit as Croft.

He added: “I know from last year that Croft presents some good overtaking places – some of them are probably ‘hidden’ – but I’m feeling good if it comes to that. Although it’s different in single-seaters when you’re asking people to surrender a position – people can obviously afford to be a bit more stubborn in the Clio Cup!

“Preferably I want be on pole position and then drive away from everyone! Qualifying at Croft is going to be a bit like Thruxton – the track surface is abrasive so you’ll likely only get one mega lap out of each pair of new front tyres that we’re allowed to use. Same as in touring cars… if you want to see the top Clio Cup names up on two wheels I’d recommend the first corner, Clervaux.”

Sutton also knows he needs to stop Hand’s recent run of form – three wins in four races mean his team-mate now actually leads the points table when dropped scores are taken into account.

“Anyone who’s had those results will be in the right frame of mind,” continued Sutton. “Our rivalry isn’t quite Senna vs Prost; more like Rosberg vs Hamilton but a bit friendlier.”