Emerging young talent makes title run-in far from straightforward for leaders predict ITV duo John Neill & Glew

ITV Sport commentators Richard John Neill and Phil Glew believe the Renault UK Clio Cup’s younger potential stars could prove a real thorn in the side for the more established names currently heading the title race as the season enters its second half at Snetterton this weekend (Sat 30/Sun 31 July).
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Ant Whorton-Eales and Mike Bushell, both in their fourth seasons in the category, top the table separated by just three points with Paul Rivett – three-times a Champion since 2002 – next up in third.

The emergence of Max Coates in fourth place, however, plus a number of high-flying performances from fellow first-season drivers in the season’s first half point to a possibly tougher-than-expected title run-in for the more senior names.

That’s the view of the encyclopaedic John Neill whose 20 years of motor sport commentary – both trackside and on TV – make him an expert observer.

He commented: “The second half of the Renault UK Clio Cup season looks like being the classic run-in to the title.

“However I'm not sure how many more surprises we will have – we've had a bumper year for those already but maybe we will see an outright win for Senna Proctor or even Dan Zelos…  Proctor, along with Josh Price and Charlie Ladell, are the only non-winners to have graced the podium, remember, and they are more than capable of wins.

“Talking of that top step, only Whorton-Eales has bagged more than one win. I doubt if that will be the case at the end of the season.

“At the moment it does look like ‘AWE’ or Bushell for the title – three points apart and some 50 ahead of Rivett and Coates, but I’ve seen people lose the championship when they’ve been further ahead than that in the past. It can turn in a moment, particularly when you have so many other great drivers on the grid.

“I think consistency and quiet confidence will be key factors in the eventual victory – something both Whorton-Eales and Bushell have in spades. But they mustn’t get complacent – the others, particularly the younger brigade, will be extremely hungry for big results and will also be prepared to stick their nose in to get those results in the season’s second half."

Glew, the 2009 UK Clio Cup Champion of course, is of a similar opinion and points to 2014 title-winner and 2015 British Touring Car racer Bushell’s struggle to stamp his authority on the season.

He said: “I do hope the second half of the season is going to be as action packed and unpredictable at the first.

“I thought Mike Bushell would dominate more than he has, which just shows how competitive this series is.

“Even though he’s won five out of the ten races so far, I still believe ‘AWE’ has had some bad luck on the way but will start to turn that around and win even more races.

“However the master himself Paul Rivett and his WDE team are really starting to make their mark in this championship as we saw from their electrifying race pace at Croft.

“I'm also expecting big things from young Josh Price as I see a lot of talent there. I predict some fantastic showings from Charlie Ladell and Rory Collingbourne, too, as I feel they both have a lot of potential.

“Senna Proctor, Max Coates and David Dickenson were all starting to shine at the half way mark so I hope they can carry their good form forward as well. It’s this type of driver – and there are lots of them on the grid – who, if they get it right in terms of car set-up and qualifying position, definitely have the race craft and aggression to cause problems for those involved in the title race.

“They could come to make things very uncomfortable for the established names and also unpredictable for those watching on ITV4 which is just what viewers love to see.”

Tune in to ITV4 this Sunday from 10.30am-6.00pm to listen to John Neill and Glew commentating on the latest two rounds of the UK Clio Cup during the channel’s bumper live broadcast from Snetterton’s British Touring Car event.