It was HOT at Snetterton for Laser Tools Racing
What a day’s racing at Snetterton for Laser Tools Racing! After a difficult qualifying session on the Saturday, the team’s fortunes were on the rise again on Sunday after a stellar drive by current BTCC Champion Ash Sutton who in Race 2 stormed from 11th place on the grid to take the win!
Free Practice Sessions
On Saturday morning’s free practice sessions all three of our cars were running as many set ups as possible looking ahead to the hot conditions that were due on Saturday and Sunday. With 20 minutes to go of the first session Ash was still 24th, Aiden was up to 16th and Carl was 21st. Ash however was on his usual mission — once he got the car somewhere near where he wanted it the challenge was on. As we headed into the last few minutes Ash was still down in 19th, but then he flicked the switch and in the space of 3 laps was up to 3rd and then 2nd as the session ended. As the track temperature kept rising, at the end of the 2nd session, Ash was P4, Carl was P17 and Aiden was P19. This heat is a really major issue for drivers, mechanicals and tyres alike, especially with the required use of the option (soft) tyre back on the agenda this weekend.
After all of the hard work so far it is fair to say that qualifying didn’t go to plan! As track temperatures headed up into the mid-30s it was one of those sessions where just about everyone lost lap times due to track limit violations – none more cruelly so than Aiden who lost his two best lap times and just ran out of time to get a final new set of tyres on. To say the decisions were tight is an understatement given the conditions!
Ash, despite running in the top 5 for the early part of the session found his times slipping away with an issue. Despite getting out for a last push, the issue continued and Ash found himself down the order. It was discover later that there was a terminal engine fault, so the decision was made to fit a new engine to Ash’s Infiniti. It was duly fitted and tested later on the Saturday evening and all ready for Sunday’s racing.
Carl is doing a great job of getting to know the new car – especially when you think we had cold rain in his first weekend and then sky high temperatures in his second. Having said that, he is enjoying the experience and gets stronger with every session.
As a team then, a really disappointing qualifying session due to a few issues and some bad luck — at the chequered flag it was Ash in 16th, Aiden in 21st and Carl in 23rd. However, Sunday was to be another day…
With not a single cloud in the sky and track temperatures already in the 30s for Race 1, the team lined up on the grid full of expectation. Because of the length of the Snetterton 300 circuit there were only going to be 12 laps and overtaking would be at a premium. Off the line the team were on the charge and after three laps Ash was up to 11th with Aiden up to 16th. As the first half of the race went on, Ash was able to get up into 10th place and Aiden was up to 15th, with Carl holding his own comfortably in 21st. Ash dropped briefly back to 12 as he was mugged by Jake Hill before gaining a place back and finishing 11th. Aiden meanwhile was flying and ended up gaining 5 places to finish in a well-deserved 14th and Carl made up another place to come home 20th.
As the lights went green and the cars struggled for traction on the uphill start, Ash and Aiden got two blinders and Ash was up to 7th and Aiden up to 10th on lap 1. Ash then got Adam Morgan for 6th on lap 2 and the screens showed a penalty for Aiden for an out of position start which would add 5 seconds to his overall race time. Carl meanwhile was up to 18th.
Ash was then in a great battle with Tom Ingram and moved up into 3rd on lap 6. At this point Ash was by far and away the fastest man on the circuit. At the start of Lap 7, Ash was able to pass the Ford Focus up into 2nd and set off after Colin Turkington who was 2 seconds further up the road. Ash was able to take the lead on lap 9 and slowly built a comfortable lead while saving his tyres.
As we came into the closing stages, Aiden was up to 7th on the track and finished a fantastic 10th after the penalty, with Carl in 17th. But it was Ash who owned the Snetterton track with a commanding win from P11. What an exciting and entertaining race for our team.
With the reverse grid positioning, Race 3 saw Ash in 7th on the grid, Aiden 10th and Carl in 17th. It was tropically hot and the boys were on fire. Track temperature was nudging 40 degrees and this race would come down the drivers who can keep their cool!
After a frenetic start that saw lots of bumping and grinding things got down to business — Aiden got up to 8th before getting tangled with Shedden and Cook which dropped him back again to 10th. By now Ash was up to 3rd on lap 3.
At the halfway stage, Ash was all over the back of Stephen Jelley’s BMW, but couldn’t get past whilst Aiden was having a great scrap with Adam Morgan for 8th. Then, on lap 7 Ash was able to get past Jelley and move up to 2nd. With 3 laps to go, Ash set off after Ingram in the lead but the 1.8 second gap looked too big to close. Aiden, still running 9th was catching Morgan and what a great battle it was right up until three corners from the end when Aiden made contact with another car and spun back to finish 17th.
So Ash finished in 2nd place for his second podium of the day and a fantastic 20 places gained overall. This puts the Laser Tools Racing driver firmly at the top of the championship table again, so he is the man to beat! “If someone had offered me this yesterday then I’d have taken it, and a win and second is great,” Ash said. “The championship lead is just the icing on the cake as the car has been mega all weekend but what happened in qualifying changed how we had to approach things. Hopefully the results today reward the team for the effort they put in on Saturday night to change the engine.
“We’ve had to make a lot of changes this weekend to deal with the changes in the tyres and the weight, and it’s great that we are back on top of the standings. We clawed it back here in the same way we clawed things back at Thruxton but the season is long and there is plenty more racing to come before the trophies are handed out.
“I think there will be lots of twists and turns, but we’re in a good place now heading for Brands Hatch.”
View the photo gallery