(Photo from www.btcc.net)
After months of speculation, it has been confirmed that Ashley Sutton will be joining Team BMR for the 2017 British Touring Car Championship season. The 23-year-old will be partnered by Jason Plato and James Cole in the Subaru Levorg GT factory backed team. Sutton, who rose through the support categories as a Team BMR Academy driver joins after winning the Jack Sears Trophy with sister squad Triple Eight Racing last season.
This success was coupled with a strong season throughout as he immediately made an impression at Brands Hatch with a fourth place finish in his first race and a maiden pole next time out at Donington. This form continued and at Croft, Sutton took his first win in the BTCC.
A clearly delighted Sutton said, “Not for one second did I think that two years down the line I would be a part of the BMR factory team; let alone with a BTCC Manufacturer like Subaru. I thought I had hit the jackpot in my debut season in securing a Manufacturer drive; but now being a part of Subaru, and the package that comes with that, has certainly topped it for me”
Speaking at the Autosport Show in January, Sutton spoke of how he wanted to be in a car capable of winning the championship in 2017 and with this news he certainly has that opportunity. “Last year I accomplished all of the personal goals I had set for myself. I know that 2017 is going to be hard, but I feel I have all the correct tools to move those goal posts and set myself some bigger challenges. Going into the final round in with a shot for the championship is the biggest aim – but this is the pinnacle of British motorsport, it’s the British Touring Car Championship, so I know it’s not going to come easy!”
It was also announced that Jason Plato would remain with the team for a third season after joining them in 2015. 2017 is a landmark season for Plato who will be celebrating 20 years in the BTCC after making his debut in a manufacture backed Renault Laguna.
It will also be James Cole’s second season with the team after switching from Motorbase, and the fifth BTCC season of his career.
It remains to be seen whether Team Principal Warren Scott will return to the driver’s seat in 2017 as he revealed that an announcement will be made on the team’s fourth driver in due course.
Here is the confirmed 2017 BTCC grid so far:
|2017 BTCC Entry List|
Silverline Subaru Team BMR
Honda Halfords Yuasa Racing
|Simpson Racing||303||Matt Simpson|
West Surrey Racing
Power Maxed Racing
Triple Eight Engineering
|Handy Motorsport||11||Rob Austin|
|Speedworks Motorsport||80||Tom Ingram|
|Team Parker Racing||TBA||Stephen Jelley|
|Laser Tools Racing||16||Aiden Moffat|
|Wix Racing||33||Adam Morgan|
BTC Norlin Racing
|Maximum Motorsport||95||Stewart Lines|