Ash Sutton wins 2020 BTCC championship at Brands Hatch

16th November 2020
James Charman

After just three-and-a-half months, the 2020 British Touring Car Championship season is over and Ash Sutton is the 2020 BTCC champion. Condensed because of the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown-related delays, it was always going to be dramatic, as BTCC finales often are, and it duly delivered.

Taking place on the shorter Indy circuit, as a result of the dwindling light in the middle of November, and with severe weather playing its part, it came down to the nimbleness of the Infiniti Q50 and its superstar driver Sutton, dancing his way up the field and winning his second BTCC crown in the process.

For the last time in 2020, we take a look at the biggest talking points from a thrilling Brands Hatch finale.


Sutton on song one more time

A driver who has been one of the most entertaining all season, Sutton came into the season finale knowing he had to leave Brands Hatch with 10 more points in his bag than title rival Colin Turkington. Out the window, then, went his edge of your seat, take no prisoners attitude and here was a new Sutton – a level-headed, mature drive of a type we haven’t really seen before from the young champion. Just a few weeks ago you wouldn’t have dreamt of seeing Sutton just sit behind his closest rival and just banking points, but that’s what we had in the final race of the year. After a typical Sutton style drive in the opening encounters, he gave himself the best possible chance after 26 races, heading into the 27th and last race of the year with an 11-point advantage over the BMW man.

The cards all fell in Sutton’s favour at Brands Hatch, and while not an ideal weekend in terms of his own personal results, overall it was everything that was needed, and Sutton leaves Brands Hatch as a two-time BTCC champion – and double 2020 winner thanks to his Independents’ title that was sealed at Snetterton.


Luck of the Irish runs out

12 months ago, Colin Turkington thought his title dream was over and Honda’s Dan Cammish was snatching it from beneath him. Then came the infamous Honda brake failure, sending Cammish careening into the tyre wall and handing the trophy back to Turkington. Heading into Brands Hatch with a slender lead, Turkington knew all he needed was a solid result, with Sutton and Cammish in the rear view mirrors and he would break the long-standing record of Andy Rouse, on a day that Lewis Hamilton equalled the great Michael Schumacher’s seven-title tally.

Sadly, it wasn’t quite as poetic on the night. Turkington never really got to grips with the BMW across the entire weekend, clearly looking a little nervous on the loud pedal in adverse conditions. As such, the four-time champion only just managed to hold on to second in the standings come 4pm on Sunday afternoon, and goes into the winter with a lot of “what might have been” playing in his mind.


Cammish and Ingram fight to the last

It was always going to be a long shot for both Dan Cammish or Tom Ingram to come away from Brands Hatch with the BTCC trophy, but that didn’t slow them down at all. After some very squirrely laps in qualifying, Cammish was desperate to work his way up the field in the early races and keep some sort of a challenge in order. He did that in fine style, taking victory in race one, followed up with a podium in race two and narrowly missing out on a trio of champagne trips in the final encounter. Ingram was similarly on fire across the Brands Hatch weekend, netting three trophies, third in race one and a pair of runner-up spots in races two and three.

The only other man in the hunt – although only by virtue of maths and was never really realistically in with a shout – was Rory Butcher. The Scot impressed all season long and rounded off a strong 2020 with his third win of the year and made sure he goes into the off-seasons as one of the hottest properties on the silly-season market.


Qualifying gives dramatic finale preview

The weekend started as it intended to go on with an incident-filled qualifying session in less than ideal conditions around the legendary Kent amphitheatre. With a damp track and yet more precipitation in the air, the top spot was changing throughout the regularly interrupted 30-minute session.

Things were looking to be leaning towards Ash Sutton’s favour in the early stages, but as the time ticked away, and following a pair of red flags for Senna Proctor and Jake Hill respectively, it began to be evident that the Toyota Corolla of Tom Ingram was looking lightning quick on the damp track. The two works Hondas of Matt Neal and title-challenger Dan Cammish played a very dangerous game, both bouncing off the barriers on the outside of Clearways and very nearly bringing out their own red flags, which would have seen their best times removed and thus forced to watch the remainder of the session from the pits. Luckily for them they were able to avoid any stoppages, and Cammish was able to put himself up at the sharp end and be in the best place to challenge for title glory come Sunday.

Meanwhile, Turkington’s struggles began early in the weekend. The BMW man found it difficult to get to the positions he’s been accustomed to across 2020, and just as he was lining up his final flying lap, a late red flag for Carl Boardley’s BMW 1 Series ended the session early, forcing Turkington to settle for eighth at the close. While not ideal compared to his title rivals, it was enough to secure the Goodyear Wingfoot award for the best overall qualifying performance across the year.


Goodbye to some firm favourites

Season closers always come with a wave of emotions as everyone prepares to say goodbye to all of their friends across the window. For some it’s a goodbye for good as series stalwarts finally hang up the gloves and Brands Hatch waved goodbye to no fewer than three of the most well-known shapes on the grid. The Mercedes A-Class, Audi S3 and Volkswagen CC all ran their last races in the series with each of their respective teams deciding it was time to call it a day with their aging chassis. It will certainly be a strange sight not seeing a CC on the grid in 2021 – with Nic Hamilton’s 2020 car, the second most experienced chassis in the field after Jake Hill’s Honda Civic, having been on the grid every year since 2013, and having been piloted by BTCC front-runners Alain Menu, Jack Goff and Aron Smith in their Team BMR days. 

While the CC successes are a distant memory, and the Audi S3 enjoyed one victory in its six-year history with AmD Tuning and later Trade Price Cars Racing, the most successful car of the outgoing shapes is without a doubt the Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Having also been a new shape for the 2014 season, the three-pointed star visited the top step of the podium on 11 occasions with both Adam Morgan and Aiden Moffat behind the wheel.

And with that the BTCC is over for another year. Twenty-seven races in three-and-a-half months was always going to be a tough task for teams, officials and everyone involved, but they pulled it off with great aplomb. A huge congratulations has to be offered to not only drivers’ champ Ash Sutton, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ Winners BMW and Jack Sears Trophy winner Michael Crees, but to every single person involved in bringing some normality back to the British motorsport fan’s weekends. Hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy the tin-top action from trackside once again in 2021, but until then, we’ve plenty of highlights from a dramatic 2020 to keep us entertained across the winter.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images.

  • BTCC

  • BTCC 2020

  • 2020

  • Ash Sutton

  • Colin Turkington

  • Brands Hatch

  • Dan Cammish

  • Rory Butcher

  • Tom Ingram

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