Why Cole was happy to be be­hind in this race

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Life - BY STEVE HIRST

SOUTH­PORT race star James Cole, along with two of his team­mates in the Adrian Flux Subaru/ Team BMR BTCC Rac­ing Team, played a sup­port­ing role as they watched a fourth mem­ber of the team, Ash Sut­ton, claim the Dun­lop MSA Bri­tish Tour­ing Car Driv­ers’ ti­tle in a dra­matic fi­nal se­ries of three races at Brands Hatch last Sun­day.

The former Bri­tish For­mula Ford cham­pion, who has been build­ing on his own tin-top ca­reer with a re­cent maiden BTCC win at Rock­ing­ham, and fel­low Team BMR team mem­bers Jason Plato and Josh Price, all con­trib­uted but took a back seat while at­ten­tion was fo­cussed on Sut­ton’s bid for the driv­ers’ crown.

As Cole re­marked in a tweet in the lead-up to the show­down week­end: “It’s race week, or should we say Ash Week! We are all be­hind you.... lit­er­ally...!”

And so it was from the start of the meet­ing as Sut­ton com­pleted a tricky qual­i­fy­ing ses­sion in third place, head­ing the other Subaru Levorgs of Plato (10th), Cole (23rd) and Price (24th).

For Cole, 29, the first race from the 12th row of the grid was never go­ing to be easy on a greasy and slow dry­ing track but he re­tained his 23rd po­si­tion in the open­ing laps be­fore drop­ping back down to 27th around half dis­tance of the 15 lap race.

But ever the fighter, the South­port racer be­gan to claw his way back and with rain fall­ing in the clos­ing stages he had made up eight po­si­tions to fin­ish 19th.

With Sut­ton fin­ish­ing third, Cole was the sec­ond-high­est placed Subaru team mem­ber, ahead of Josh Price (23rd) and Jason Plato (28th).

With threat­en­ing dark clouds Cole, start­ing the sec­ond race from row 10, had dropped back to 25th where, along with team­mates Plato and Price they formed a con­voy of Scoo­bies run­ning to­gether and swap­ping po­si­tions.

Mean­while, with Sut­ton fin­ish­ing the race in 12th, and now only lead­ing the driv­ers’ ti­tle chase by six points after Colin Turk­ing­ton (Team BMW), se­cured a sen­sa­tional win from a 15th place start, Cole was once again the num­ber two fin­ish­ing Subaru.

The former sin­gle­seater cham­pion ended the race in 22nd, with Price (23rd) and twotimes BTCC cham­pion Plato (24th).

The fi­nal show­down be­tween Sut­ton turned out to be some­what of an anti-cli­max when Turk­ing­ton’s bid ended after just one lap as he crawled back to the pits with a punc­ture and bro­ken rear sus­pen­sion.

But Sut­ton, now with an unas­sail­able points lead, was able to en­joy a run to a third place podium fin­ish and revel in be­com­ing Driv­ers’ Cham­pion in only his sec­ond year in the BTCC.

Cole’s sec­ond cam­paign fin­ished qui­etly in 26th place as the squad pre­pared to cel­e­brate Sut­ton’s suc­cess, but by fin­ish­ing 16th out of 37 in the Driv­ers’ Cham­pi­onship his greatly im­proved per­for­mances in the sec­ond half of the sea­son had helped Subaru fin­ish runner-up in the Man­u­fac­tur­ersCon­struc­tors stand­ings and third in the Teams rank­ings.

SWpix.com

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