Superb Snetterton double for championship leader Cook

Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup championship leader Josh Cook (Bath) dominated round 12 of the season at Snetterton 300 Circuit this morning, Sunday, 3rd August, to secure a superb weekend double and increase his already significant advantage in the title race to 34 points.

Marking his fifth win of the season, the SV Racing with KX driver led from lights-to-flag after pole position qualifier Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) unfortunately stalled on the line. Although under some pressure from team-mate Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) and WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Banstead) over the first lap and a half, Cook was then able to pull clear to win by four seconds.

“Everything can quickly change can’t it, one DNF and it puts me right back into the mix so we’ve just got to try and keep it clean – this is obviously a good confidence boost though”, said the cautious points leader, “It’s not great to see a driver stall on the line, and it’s so easy to do. Luckily I managed to get away, I almost stalled myself, and it was a very busy first lap. It’s great to get two wins here.”

With Bushell’s startline stall, the beginning of the race was certainly dramatic but everyone luckily managed to avoid collecting the VitalRacing with Team Pyro Clio – which did fire back into life after the field had streamed past. Craig Milner (Matlock), though, was the unfortunate victim of contact as several cars moved over to avoid Bushell and the 20Ten Racing driver retired to the pits.

While Cook led away from second on the grid, Whorton-Eales managed to edge ahead of third placed starter Rivett and the lead trio ran in very close company until midway through lap two when Cook was able to start pulling away.

Into lap three, Cook had built an advantage of 1.7 seconds and – although having some small issues with braking – he was able to storm into the distance to take the win by 4.2 seconds. Whorton-Eales and Rivett were nose-to-tail for the entire duration with the SV Racing driver managing to keep his more experienced rival at bay for the first half of the encounter.

On lap six, though, Rivett produced a terrific cutback at the exit of Agostini to grab second place. On the outside line into the hairpin, the three-time former Clio Cup champion cut back to the inside as the cars rounded the left-hander and edged past on the run into Hamilton. Whorton-Eales refused to be dropped though and they were separated by only 0.8 seconds at the chequered flag.

“We had a great race today, I’m really pleased to come home in second place and win the Masters again”, said Rivett, “The first lap was amazing, all three of us were dicing and the lead could have gone any way. I settled back into third place and it was a great battle with Ant [Whorton-Eales], he drove really well and I had to work very hard to get past him.

“It’s nice to be back at the front, we just haven’t had luck on our side this year. We’ve always been there in the races but we just needed a bit more luck. We’ve had a few second places but now we need a first – I’ve never got this far through a season without winning a race!”

Whorton-Eales commented: “All we need at the minute is these podium finishes. We got up to second behind Josh [Cook], it would have been nice if it was plain sailing with us two pulling away from the pack but [Paul] Rivett’s always fast, he knows how to drive a Clio. Once he got in the tow, there was no keeping him behind. He read the corners well, knew where I was putting the car.”

Behind the podium finishers, Pyro’s Lee Pattison (Scholes) was a relatively lonely fourth after rising through the order impressively. Making a good start from fifth on the grid, Pattison was firmly in the lead battle but at Agostini on the first lap he was elbowed back to seventh.

Quickly making his way back into the top five, he took fourth from Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) at Montreal on lap three and then pulled away from the squabbling pack to post his best finish since round seven at Oulton Park in early June.

Colburn was under immense pressure for fifth during the second half of the contest but somehow managed to keep his rivals behind with some impressive defensive driving. Initially having to fend off the attentions of 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp (Potterspury), who started the race in eighth rather than his qualification slot of fifth due to a penalty from round 11, Colburn didn’t put a wheel wrong.

As the recovering Bushell began to carve his way through the order, posting the fastest lap of the race on the sixth tour, Stilp himself became a target and Bushell usurped him for sixth with a great move at the Bomb Hole.

Into lap eight, Colburn, Bushell, Stilp and WDE’s Charlie Ladell (Felixstowe) were glued together in the battle for fifth but despite Bushell’s clear pace advantage, Colburn impressively held onto the place to the flag on lap 10 with the order just behind unchanged – less than a second covering fifth to eighth places.

Following Saturday’s race, round 11, Jordan Stilp was given an eight second time penalty in relation to his part in an on-track incident as well as three points applied to his racing licence, triggering a three point deduction from his championship total.

This means Stilp drops from fourth to eighth in the amended race one results, elevating Ladell into fourth, Modell into fifth and Pattison into seventh. Whorton-Eales, who was given a one second time penalty after round 11, remains sixth in the race one classification due to Stilp’s penalty.

Next on the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup calendar is a return to Knockhill Circuit in Fife, over the weekend 23rd/24th August, for rounds 13 and 14 of the season. As well as being the local venue for the Clio Cup’s headline sponsor, Courier Connections, the race meeting will also mark the championship’s first visit to Scotland since 2010.

The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup standings (after Rd12):
1st Josh Cook, 301pts; 2nd James Colburn, 267pts; 3rd Mike Bushell, 253pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd12):
1st Josh Cook, 317pts; 2nd James Colburn, 311pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 288pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd12):
1st Lee Pattison, 360pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 293pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 253pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd12):
1st SV Racing with KX, 631pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 465pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 427pts