Maximum Motorsport ace Whorton-Eales set a best lap time of one minute, 04.286 seconds to secure pole on the race one grid – at 20 cars the biggest the UK Clio Cup has seen in almost two years. His time was close to eight tenths of a second inside the previous qualifying record…
Race two’s grid, which is decided by a driver’s second fastest lap in qualifying’ also fell to Whorton-Eales with a time of 1m04.346s.
Team BMR Restart with Pyro’s Ashley Sutton (Bishops Stortford), WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Epsom) and Pyro’s Ash Hand’s (Nuneaton) followed in second, third and fourth positions for both grids. However Sutton will be relegated to fourth on the race one grid as a result of being handed a two place penalty following an incident in the previous rounds at Rockingham.
It means the championship’s top four drivers will start both races from the top four places on the grid. Hand can provisionally become the new UK Clio Cup Champion tomorrow if he extends his current lead at the top of the table of 31 points to 68 when the championship’s ‘two-dropped-scores’ rule is applied.
Tomorrow’s two races – both 18 laps and at 12.35pm and 4.30pm – will be shown on ITV4 as part of the channel’s live Dunlop British Touring Car coverage.
Whorton-Eales commented: “It’s always great to be P1 and I’m really chuffed for the Maximum team who’ve not had a pole before. Around here, though, it doesn’t count for much as the races are likely to be decided by slipstreaming tactics. It’ll be very tough to make any sort of break out front…”
Sutton said: “I really felt pole position was mine when I set the fastest first sector of anyone right near the end but then my car suffered with fuel surge and the chance was gone. But I’m still happy – we’re bang on the pace.”
Rivett, with it all to do in the title from a distant fourth in the standings, said: “I just wasn’t able to get the big lap together there, but I always race better than I qualify so I think we’re in a strong position for tomorrow.”
Championship leader Hand added: “We made a few tweaks to the car’s set-up which probably hurt us a bit in qualifying but I don’t need to win the races tomorrow – it’s all about just scoring well and looking after my lead.”
Behind the top four Sedgwick, not 16 until February and the youngest driver on this year’s grid, was a superb fifth fastest on the race one grid for Team Cooksport, fractionally ahead of Tom Grundy (Jumeirah, Dubai) in sixth for JamSport Racing. Grundy will also be fifth on the race two grid, just clear of Pyro’s Josh Price (Redbourn). Another newcomer, Maximum’s Tom Witts (Crick), also impressed with the seventh fastest time for race one.
Of the other newcomers this weekend, Ben Davis (Ledbury) was the fastest qualifier for the debuting Italian Rangoni Corse squad with tenth on the race two grid (team-mate Michele Puccetti managed a pair of 13ths), while Sam Watkins (Swansea) and Tom Butler (Derby) took turns to uphold 20Ten Racing honour with a 14th apiece.
CLICK HERE for the full qualifying times.