First win for Hand in another Clio Cup classic at Donington

Ash Hand (Nuneaton) achieved the first Renault UK Clio Cup race win of his career in the first of today’s two races at Donington Park which produced yet another multi-car dice for the lead.
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SV Racing’s championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) took the lead at the start and looked to have broken the slipstream effect of his pursuers. But within a lap Team BMR Restart with Pyro ace Ashley Sutton (Bishops Stortford), Hand and 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp (Towcester) were all back on him.

Sutton then took over the lead before Pyro team-mate Hand moved into first place. As those behind tripped over one another he was crucially able to break their tow and he was clear for the win – his first in the Clio Cup and a result which makes up for the disappointment of retiring from yesterday’s round.

Hand also becomes the third different winner in as many races in what is already shaping up to be one of the most exciting title battles in Clio Cup history.

Sutton crossed the line in a clear second place ahead of Whorton-Eales, WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Epsom), SVR’s Jack Mitchell (West Kingsdown), Pyro’s Brett Smith (Wellingborough) and Stilp – these five covered by just seven tenths of a second. Stilp has been third going into the last bend but, slow on the exit, he was swamped in the sprint to the line…

However a five-second time penalty for Sutton for exceeding the track limits then elevated all five of the other drivers a place. Whorton-Eales was thus classified second and, with two bonus points for setting another lap record, has extended his advantage over Sutton at the top of the standings.

Click here for the race result.

Hand commented: “I started fifth on the grid so put a lot into my first lap to get myself up to third and then things came to me. I knew when I got into the front and could see them battling among themselves in my mirrors it was my chance so got the hammer down. I’m delighted.”

Whorton-Eales said: “Pretty stressful is how I’d sum up that one – they can’t all keep being this exciting, surely? I can’t remember how many times Ashley, Jordan and I swapped places in that one. It was all very close, hard but fair racing.”

And added three-time Champion Rivett: “I think that will go down as an all-time Clio Cup classic – I’ve been racing in this since 2001 and it was one of the most exciting races I’ve ever done and the level of talent from the younger drivers is extraordinarily high. It’s nice to open my podium account for 2015 like this.”

Charles Ladell and George Jackson were the Team Cooksport and JamSport Racing squads highest finishers in eighth and ninth ahead of SVR’s Ben Seyfried, the top finisher in the Masters Cup for older drivers. However a time penalty for him later gave Cooksport's Paul Knapp a second Masters Cup win in two events although Seyfried still leads the class overall.

Meanwhile there were retirements in gravel traps for both Cooksport’s Thomas Grundy and Team BKR’s Freddie Hunt.