Why Cole was happy to be behind in this race
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.
Holy Hiobboott in action in Budapest earlier this year