WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett initially took the fight to Hand in the opening laps but was passed by Sutton’s Team BMR Restart-backed car into the Allard corner. This allowed Whorton-Eales to also pounce past Rivett at the Campbell-Cobb-Segrave complex of bends.
From there the top three drew clear – Hand setting the race’s fastest lap for two bonus points – as Rivett fought off a challenging Jordan Stilp (20Ten Racing). Rivett and Stilp eventually finished nose-to-tail in fourth and fifth ahead of Jon Maybin – a brilliant sixth on his Clio Cup debut with the Team Cooksport squad.
JamSport’s George Jackson also put in a great performance to claim ninth having been forced off the track and down to last place on the opening lap as he avoided a clash between team-mate Dan Holland and Team BKR’s James Colburn that put both drivers out of the race.
Hand, who led all the way from pole position, said: “I’m very happy with my drive – there were a few hairy moments through Church corner but once I’d broken the tow to Ashley and Ant I felt I had them under control. I’m on pole for race two as well so feeling good for that one.”
Sutton added: “I’m a lucky boy – I had two wheels on the grass exiting Goodwood and at one moment the car wasn’t pointing in the right direction! On some laps I could close on Ash slightly but on others he went away again. My car had a bit too much understeer so we’ll hopefully sort that out for race two and I could do with winning it to take more points out of Ant’s lead.”
Whorton-Eales said: “Ashley did really well to hold that moment – I was right behind him and it was hairy. But I’m very happy with that result. I said two top fours would do it for me this weekend – Thruxton for me is about keeping hold of the championship lead – so that’s one ticked off."