Bushell wins dramatic Snetterton race one to take championship lead as Whorton-Eales & Rivett retire

Mike Bushell has won the first of today’s Renault UK Clio Cup races at Snetterton to move into the championship lead past Ant Whorton-Eales who retired in the pit lane with a damaged car.
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Bushell survived several early scrapes to run out a comfortable winner ahead of an emotional Max Coates – mourning the loss of his grandfather yesterday – and Senna Proctor who finished in third.

At the start Bushell’s Pyro car and the JamSport machine of Luke Kidsley made slight contact exiting the first bend. Kidsley went spinning off the track as his JamSport team-mate Whorton-Eales took advantage to pounce past Bushell into the lead braking for the Wilson hairpin.

WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett also looked to take advantage but as he approached Wilson his car failed to stop and ran into the back of both Bushell's and Whorton-Eales's machines.

While Whorton-Eales emerged from the corner in front ahead of Bushell, Rivett's car was too badly damaged to continue and the three-time Champion suffered a costly retirement. However Whorton-Eales's car had also been wounded in the impact and a loss of pace for him was all Bushell needed to have regained the lead by the end of lap one.

In fact the two title rivals then ran side-by-side inches apart across the start-finish line before Whorton-Eales dropped to fourth when passed by both Ciceley’s Coates and Team BMR with Pyro’s Proctor. He would soon reclaim third from Proctor but then frustratingly called it a day when ordered to pit to have damage to the rear of his car repaired.

Up front Bushell was able to gradually edge clear of Coates for his second win of the season. It puts him 29 points clear of Whorton-Eales at the top of the table heading into this afternoon’s second race at Snetterton. Second place for Coates, who set a new lap record during the race, moves him past Rivett into third in the standings.

Behind, Proctor just fended off team-mate Josh Price to take third in the race while Cooksport’s Lee Pattison followed in fifth – both Price's and Pattison's progress had been nothing short of electrifying after they had started back in 11th and 12th on the grid. Sixth was Pyro’s David Dickenson but only just as, behind him, Ciceley’s Dan Zelos kept up the pressure en route to a career-best seventh at his home circuit.

Bushell said: “That was an incredibly fraught opening lap and I was very happy just to survive it. But once I got in front I was able to put in consistently fast lap times and that was enough to take the heat of any fight with Max. It's a very important result.”

The most entertaining battle in the closing stages was that for eighth place. JamSport’s Chris Smiley took the position on his debut but only after fending off a menacing pack behind which was headed by PP Motorsport’s Anton Spires and Cooksport’s George Jackson in ninth and tenth respectively. Spires had briefly been up to fifth in the early stages before an error dropped him down the order; like team-mate Pattison, Jackson also put in a storming drive having started way back in 20th.

Also in among this group at the end were Finesse’s Paul Streather and WDE’s Charlie Ladell but they tumbled to an eventual 13th and 14th in the result because of time penalties for exceeding track limits. This promoted Vanquish/WDE’s Paul Plant and Cooksport’s Rory Collingbourne to 11th and 12th.

Cooksport’s Shayne Deegan survived a brush with WDE’s Rory Green to take 15th on his debut. Ciceley’s Ollie Pidgley – also with a track limits time penalty – was 16th, followed by Green, 20Ten Racing’s Craig Milner and, after a pit stop, the wounded Kidsley.

CLICK HERE for the full race results.