Ingram was then left to try and fend off Sutton, but the Infiniti found greater drive out of Graham Hill to edge past for second, swinging the championship back in Sutton’s favour by two points.
Rory Butcher was fourth, having struggled off the line and dropped spots to both Sutton and Cammish, with Ollie Jackson making it two Motorbase Fords in the top five at the team’s local circuit.
Race one podium was packed with Turkington’s title rivals
Race two would be no less straightforward, even if conditions did improve. Yet it would be another case of Turkington being stuck outside of the top three and looking in.
The rain abated after the opener, and the grid formed up for race two on a damp but drying track. Most cars plumped for slick tyres – including all of the championship chasers – which made for a mixed opening few laps.
Sutton controlled his wheelspin perfectly to slip past pole-sitter Cammish into Paddock Hill as Ingram followed in third. But his start would soon be stunted when a rub between Jackson and Butcher’s Motorbase Fords sent both sliding and elbowed the Toyota briefly off the road and through the gravel.
Cammish narrowly avoided the same fate, skilfully holding a huge slide of his own to keep Sutton in check. Despite Tom Chilton’s wet-shod Civic working its way to the front early on before the conditions swung firmly to the slick-runners, Sutton was peerless, pulling out a healthy gap to snatch a vital win.
“That one felt good,” he said. “The car came alive after a few laps and it was a case of picking my moments and staying out of trouble. Anything can happen in the reversed grid race, so we can take nothing for granted.”
Sutton got the jump on Cammish at the start of the second race
Behind, things were spiced up by a superb recovery drive by Ingram, who snuck his way back up the order to depose both Cammish and Turkington to snatch second in the now-muddied Toyota. Turkington looked to have secured the final place on the rostrum with a brave dive around the outside of Cammish at Paddock, sweeping back across just in time to miss the stranded Audi of BTCC debutant Paul Rivett, which had spun and come to a rest in the middle of the track, unsighted of Turkington until the last moment.
While Turkington did get the move done, officials deemed he’d passed under a yellow flag, and reversed the places after the race, kicking Turkington off the podium as once again his rivals filled its steps.
“I didn’t see any yellow flags going into the corner, but it was certainly a close call!” rued Turkington. “At least the car felt fast, and I needed to move forward. I’m fired up for the last one.”
The net result was Sutton at the head of the points, with an 11-point cushion over Turkington. However, Sutton was starting back in 12th, and with a fully ballasted car, while Turkington was ahead in eighth.
Anything could happen… And then it rained.
More rain hampered the BMWs in the final race of the season
It was almost a sign. The soaked track brought the same old issues for Turkington, who was constantly fighting the car, struggling for grip. Sutton put in a few cautious opening laps, and then slotted his car behind Turkington, knowing he only had to shadow his rival to the flag. But, when Turkington got a poor run out of Clearways, Sutton took his chance, pulled alongside and passed into Paddock Hill, queuing that moment on the onboard camera. There was nothing the four-time champion could do. Game over.
“It just wasn’t my weekend, but we can hold our heads high,” said Turkington. “I just didn’t have the pace in the wet. There was nothing else I could do.”
Sutton would go on to finish sixth and take his second crown. “It’s just incredible, it’s been such a team effort – it’s been a long time since an independent team won the overall BTCC title, and it just feels so special,” said Sutton.