Plenty of personal bests and ‘career firsts’ to reflect on in Thruxton’s latest Renault UK Clio Cup rounds

For the second time in as many events in 2016 there was a new face on the Renault UK Clio Cup podium at Thruxton as others also gave a hint of what’s yet to come in what is fast-emerging as the championship’s most wide open season of all time.
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Team Pyro’s Josh Price (pictured left) stole much of the show with two fine drives to the podium in Hampshire – second in race one was backed up with third in race two. And this after he had given his best qualifying performance to date, with third on the grid for both races. It was mighty impressive stuff from the 17-year-old on a circuit that rewards the committed…

Not a million miles behind, newcomers PP Motorsport and Anton Spires backed up the promise they had shown on their debut at Brands Hatch a month earlier. Two sevenths in qualifying didn’t quite match the sixth they’d achieved at Brands, but results of sixth and then fifth in the races at Thruxton – their previous best had been a 12th – marked a real breakthrough for both team and driver.

Vanquish Motorsport with WDE’s Paul Plant also enjoyed a qualifying ‘PB’ with an excellent fourth on the grid for race one. Likewise Pyro’s David Dickenson and Team BMR with Pyro’s Senna Proctor, who qualified sixth and ninth fastest for race two. Dickenson then went on to record career best race results of seventh (in both rounds).

For the first time in 2016 Mike Bushell took pole position – two in fact – for a race. It meant pole for the season’s opening six rounds has been shared by five different drivers. Furthermore Plant’s and Proctor’s performances mean that 15 different drivers have now qualified inside the top ten so far this year…

The gap Bushell put on the rest in qualifying – close to a second for race two – left many predicting he would become the fifth different race winner in as many rounds but of course it didn’t quite work out like that.

For one reason or another it was JamSport’s Ant Whorton-Eales who took both victories to make it three wins out of six rounds. No other team or driver has more than one to their name so far in 2016… In race one at Thruxton, ‘AWE’ also became the first driver this season to achieve the maximum score possible – 34 points, with 32 for the win plus an extra two for setting the fastest lap.

His points total of 66 at Thruxton (his win in race two gave him another 32) also beats the 60 scored by Team Cooksport’s Lee Pattison in Brands Hatch’s opening rounds.

While a race win in 2016 still eludes Bushell there was the consolation that for the first time ever he had managed to overtake three-time champion Paul Rivett in a race situation – something both drivers were able to laugh about later!

For WDE Motorsport’s Rivett, Thruxton marked the first time this season he had failed to finish on the podium in either race at an event. It’s a fact that underlines once more the unpredictability of 2016’s title race for, just six races into the campaign, no one driver has been able to finish on the podium every time out (Rivett had managed ‘top-threes’ in all four opening rounds at Brands and Donington Park).

Similarly 18 different drivers have now achieved top-ten race results in just six races. And only six drivers out of 26 to have entered races have now scored points in every round run…