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Croft BTCC: Sutton ends pole drought, leads Plato in Subaru one-two

Ash Sutton takes Croft BTCC pole 2018

Ashley Sutton secured his first pole position in 12 months by topping qualifying for the Croft British Touring Car Championship round in a BMR Subaru one-two ahead of Jason Plato.

Reigning BTCC champion Sutton jumped to the top of the times almost as soon as the session had got under way with a lap just shy of Tom Ingram's best from free practice, and could well have gone quicker on the next two when he went purple in the opening sector.

A combination of traffic and the spinning BMW of Rob Collard forced Sutton to back off, but he went nearly half a second clear of the chasing pack after coming out on fresh tyres for his second run.

As rivals closed in, Sutton went out for one final run but ran wide through the gravel at Clervaux on the first timed lap and was unable to improve.

Despite that, Sutton's time proved to be unbeatable and he secured his first pole since the corresponding meeting last season.

"If Colin [Turkington] had no ballast it would be a different story," he said.

"We still aren't right but everyone involved with the team and the guys at Swindon have worked hard to get us here.

"We've made it count today without the ballast and we'll see what happens in the opening race.

"We've not done much running with weight in and hopefully we'll be in a position to carry some after race one tomorrow."

Plato made it an all-Subaru front row with by far his best qualifying performance of the season.

Prior to Croft, Plato hadn't qualified inside the top 20 at all in 2018 but he fell just a tenth of a second shy of top spot.

Jason Plato and Ash Sutton

WSR's Andrew Jordan completed a rear-wheel drive lock-out of the top three in his BMW.

Sam Tordoff's impressive qualifying record continued as he led the way among the front-wheel-drive cars, making the most of the lack of ballast on his Ford Focus to go fourth quickest; little over two tenths of a second away from pole.

Behind Tordoff came the first of the more ballast-heavy cars, with Tom Ingram taking fifth spot ahead of championship leader Colin Turkington.

In a good session for the BMWs, WSR driver Collard and the Team Parker-run car of Stephen Jelley completed the top eight - Jelley having recovered from an engine change between practice sessions.

Further down the field, it proved to be a troubled session for the Honda drivers - with Matt Neal in 15th spot despite stopping at Sunny In in the closing stages and team-mate Dan Cammish five spots further back in 20th.

Championship hopeful Jack Goff also has work to do on race day having qualified back in 26th in his Eurotech-run Civic Type-R.

Qualifying result

1Ash SuttonTeam BMRSubaru1m24.222s-
2Jason PlatoTeam BMRSubaru1m24.378s0.156s
3Andrew JordanWSRBMW1m24.395s0.173s
4Sam TordoffMotorbaseFord1m24.425s0.203s
5Tom IngramSpeedworksToyota1m24.644s0.422s
6Colin TurkingtonWSRBMW1m24.672s0.450s
7Rob CollardWSRBMW1m24.698s0.476s
8Stephen JelleyTeam Parker RacingBMW1m24.891s0.669s
9Josh CookPower Maxed RacingVauxhall1m24.893s0.671s
10Rob AustinHMS RacingAlfa Romeo1m24.956s0.734s
11Daniel LloydBTC NorlinHonda1m25.026s0.804s
12James ColeMotorbaseFord1m25.070s0.848s
13Rory ButcherAmD TuningMG1m25.082s0.860s
14Senna ProctorPower Maxed RacingVauxhall1m25.104s0.882s
15Matt NealTeam DynamicsHonda1m25.142s0.920s
16Ollie JacksonAmD TuningAudi1m25.205s0.983s
17Tom ChiltonMotorbaseFord1m25.209s0.987s
18Tom OliphantCiceley MotorsportMercedes1m25.258s1.036s
19Mike BushellTeam HardVolkswagen1m25.261s1.039s
20Dan CammishTeam DynamicsHonda1m25.299s1.077s
21Josh PriceTeam BMRSubaru1m25.318s1.096s
22Adam MorganCiceley MotorsportMercedes1m25.320s1.098s
23Chris SmileyBTC NorlinHonda1m25.387s1.165s
24Aiden MoffatLaser Tools RacingMercedes1m25.440s1.218s
25Jake HillTeam HardVolkswagen1m25.495s1.273s
26Jack GoffEurotech RacingHonda1m25.496s1.274s
27Matt SimpsonEurotech RacingHonda1m25.617s1.395s
28Brett SmithEurotech RacingHonda1m25.687s1.465s
29Michael CaineTeam HardVolkswagen1m25.700s1.478s
30Bobby ThompsonTeam HardVolkswagen1m25.974s1.752s
31Tom BoardmanAmD TuningMG1m26.292s2.070s
32Sam SmeltAmD TuningAudi1m26.318s2.096s

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