Team BMR and Subaru are pleased to announce that race-winning young gun Ash Sutton will drive alongside Jason Plato and James Cole for the forthcoming season of the 2017 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Ash, 23 from Hertfordshire, comes to Team BMR from Triple Eight Racing with a year’s BTCC experience after finishing the top rookie in 2016. Right from the outset Ash made his mark on the championship with an impressive 4th place finish on his BTCC debut at Brands Hatch back in April last year and his success continued throughout the season leading to his maiden win in a very wet race three at Croft. There were two further podiums, two pole positions from qualifying and two fastest racing laps. On finals day back in October, he lifted the coveted Jack Sears Trophy after finishing top rookie, a championship he led for the whole of 2016.
For Jason, 2017 will be his third consecutive year with the team and we are delighted that another BTCC milestone will be coming his way, this year Jason will be celebrating 20 years since he first joined the championship in 1997. Jason remains the most successful driver in the history of the championship to date and took several podiums in 2016 with the all new Subaru Levorg GT that included his first Subaru pole position for the start of his 500th BTCC race which he won with an impressive lights to flag victory, the 95th of his career. He is also Great Britain’s most winning driver in motorsport history with 113 career victories, Lewis Hamilton is 2nd with 90 wins and Sir Stirling Moss 5th on 74.
James Cole joined the team in 2016 after switching from Motorbase Performance and will remain with BMR for a second year in what will be his fifth season in the BTCC. James brought a wealth of knowledge to the team last year which hugely assisted us in developing the Subaru Levorg GT in its debut year in the championship and confirmed this with a fastest lap during race two at Silverstone. James has already completed a two-day test at Donington Park since the 2016 championship ended where he gained valuable data for the team.
An announcement with regards to the fourth Subaru Levorg will be made within the next few weeks.
The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season gets underway at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit on April 1st & 2nd.
Ash Sutton commented “I am over the moon to be offered such a great opportunity. I joined the Team BMR Academy at the end of the 2014, signing a two-year deal to race in the UK Clio Cup Championship, with a view to working our way up through the 2015/16 seasons. That two-year deal soon turned into one, and 2016 saw me sat in a BTCC Car. 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 such a newly-bred BTCC manufacturer as Subaru. I thought I had hit the jackpot in my debut season in securing a manufacture drive; but now being a part of Subaru, and the package that comes with that, has certainly topped it for me.
“Last year I accomplished all of the personal goals I had set for myself, I know that 2016 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!
“I have been asked what my thoughts are on jumping into a rear wheel drive car and to be completely honest I am I’m going back to my roots. I have only had two years in front wheel drive throughout my whole racing career, so I can’t wait to be back where I belong. I’m looking forward to the intense testing program we have planned.
“Working alongside Jason, someone I have always looked up to, is something of an added bonus for me. There are three things that have made this academy journey come alive, those being; my family, all my loyal sponsors, and Warren Scott himself for giving me this opportunity. All I can say now is, roll on Brands!”
Jason Plato commented “I predict 2017 will bring much success, I’m energised and looking forward to fighting for the championship. Our team goes from strength to strength. We have a fantastic new addition to the driver squad in young Ash Sutton, I’m certainly expecting him to be right in the thick of the action. Testing begins in two weeks and I can’t wait.”
James Cole commented "Winter testing was a revelation. I worked with Jason's engineer, Carl Faux, and WOW, it felt like I was in a racing car again. It just felt right - the balance, my confidence. I can't wait to get back in the car and build on what I learnt in testing. I need to deliver for the team and myself. Jason and Ash are quality team mates and I relish the challenge to work and compete with them and help Team BMR to win the driver and team championships in 2017."