It really is too close to call between the two stand-out acts of 2016, neither of whom has ever won before around the Brands GP circuit on which the final two rounds of the season will be played out…
Both, though, have reason to be confident. Brands is Bushell’s home circuit and it was on the GP circuit he comfortably set the pace on his last visit there in 2014 when he also become Champion. He has also qualified on pole position for ten of the season’s 16 races to date.
Whorton-Eales has nine wins to Bushell’s three so far in 2016 and seems to be able to win or challenge for victories from wherever he starts on the grid. He was also on pole position for last year’s final two rounds on the Brands GP circuit. If he wins Saturday’s race and Bushell fails to score in it then he is Champion.
So over to our ‘experts’ – all members of the media who have been up close and personal to the UK Clio Cup in its 25th anniversary year. Opinions in bold…
Phil Glew, 2009 Champion and ITV4 commentator (on the fence) / Twitter: @philipglew
“Almost too close to call. On paper, with his greater number of wins, then ‘AWE’ should be a clear favourite. However Bushell’s qualifying pace and consistency gives him a very strong chance to take his second title. Bushell also has the advantage of having the championship decider at his home track, but I can never discard AWE’s amazing race craft and car control, especially if we end up with a wet one!”
Richard John Neill, ITV4 commentator (AWE) / Twitter: @arejayenn
"It’s going to be Ant. Simply because he’s got the upper hand going to Brands and he’s not the sort of character who will be flapped into losing it…"
Jonny Palmer, circuit commentator, Brands Hatch GP & Oulton Park (AWE) / Twitter: @BlackpoolJonny
"It’s clearly too close to call, but with Ant Whorton-Eales’s superior win ratio it seems likely that he’ll be victorious in at least one race at Brands Hatch. But then you have the home track advantage that Mike Bushell enjoys. I reckon it’ll be Ant by a nose… or by two fastest laps like he did in April!"
Chris Hartley, circuit commentator, Silverstone, Donington and Croft (AWE) / Twitter: @HartleyComms
“In terms of race results Mike seems to have the better record of the two around this track. AWE also suffered a nightmare final round there last year, so the stats lean towards Mike. But, given his wins tally and, as we saw at Silverstone, his ability to soak up pressure, then AWE to shade it… just!”
Andy McEwan, circuit commentator, Brands Hatch Indy, Thruxton & Snetterton (AWE)
“I reckon Bushell will take both poles, as he has done several times already this season, but AWE, by virtue of two of his customary ‘AWEsome’ starts, ought to do enough to take the title. Paul Streather, the star of Brands GP last year, for at least one race win, though, which could mix things up...”
Stephen Lickorish, Autosport & Motorsport News (AWE) / Twitter: @SDLickorish
“I think Ant Whorton-Eales will take the crown. He has secured three times the number of wins to Bushell (nine to three) and one crucial trick Whorton-Eales has up his sleeve is his incredible starts. But this is the UK Clio Cup, after all, so you can be sure it’ll be close!
Simon Paice, The Checkered Flag (AWE) / Twitter: @SPaiceMedia
“This couldn’t be harder to call. Both drivers have been superb this season and either would be a worthy champion at the end of a vintage Clio Cup campaign… But for me, I feel Whorton-Eales’s superior racing will get him the points he needs at Brands Hatch.”