Staff at MG Motor are celebrating this week, after British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) driver Ashley Sutton took home the coveted Jack Sears Trophy in his MG6 at Brands Hatch (Sunday 2 October 2016). The award, which recognises the highest scoring rookie driver in the championship, was especially poignant this year given the fact that Sears, who was the first ever winner of the BTCC Trophy, died in August aged 86.
The battle for the Jack Sears Trophy went down to the wire this year, with the Essex-born racer still unsure of clinching the title until the finish line. While he just had to complete the final race of the season to secure the title, with three laps to go Sutton experienced unexpected vibration issues. Taking no chances, the Triple Eight Racing team called the Number 116 MG6 back to the pits for a set of new tyres, allowing Sutton to re-join the race and complete the remaining laps more comfortably, before celebrations began.
Sutton commented: “I'm absolutely delighted. At the start of the season we set ourselves four goals - a first Pole Position, a first BTCC podium, a first race win and to win the Jack Shears trophy.
“We managed to achieve the first Pole Position second time out at Donington Park, which was amazing. The first podium and the win were ticked off at Croft and I'm so pleased to finish the season on a high with the Jack Sears Trophy. It took all 30 races to finally get it done and to do it in MG & 888's 150th race together was very special. Obviously trophies always mean a lot but to accept this one, named after the great Jack Shears, from his son David, in the year he passed away was very moving.
“I can't thank Triple Eight enough for making me feel at home in my debut year! I’d also like to thank MG and RICB for believing in me and giving me this chance to live and fulfil my dream. It has been a pleasure this year, and despite the bad luck I have still loved every minute of it!
“As always I'd like to thank my sponsors, family and friends as without their support then none of this would be possible. It's been a great first season for me in the BTCC - I just can't wait to get going again! Roll on 2017'"
Matthew Cheyne, Head of Sales and Marketing at MG Motor, added: "We're thrilled with the season's results and the success achieved by both Ash and Josh. We viewed BTCC 2016 as a bedding in season for both the cars and drivers, however, they delivered above and beyond expectations and achieved hugely impressive results.
"On behalf of MG Motor, I'd like to personally congratulate Ash on taking home the Jack Sears Trophy this weekend and look forward to watching both his - and Josh's - continued success in 2017.”
Demonstrating his fighting spirit and racing skill, 22-year old Sutton was the only rookie driver to finish on the main podium during the season. He stormed to his first ever Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship victory after producing an outstanding performance in the final encounter at Croft on 19th June.
Ashley Sutton finished the Jack Sears Trophy competition with a final score of 442. His nearest rival was Michael Epps, who scored 424.