Ashley Sutton led all the way to win this afternoon’s Renault UK Clio Cup round at Rockingham but only after resisting intense pressure from Team Pyro team-mate Ash Hand who himself had to fight back in the closing stages to deny Maximum Motorsport’s Ant Whorton-Eales of second position as the championship delivered yet another truly nail-biting race.
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Hand started from pole position after setting a qualifying lap record for the Clio Cup around Rockingham earlier in the day. Sutton, though, made a better get-away to lead into the first corner and stayed in front all the way to the chequered flag for his third win of the season.

Hand, the championship leader, tried overtaking Sutton on numerous occasions before Whorton-Eales closed in on them both and briefly got his nose ahead for second place. But Hand was not to be denied and re-passed ‘AWE’ onto the final lap to secure the runners-up spot as the top three in the championship filled the top three positions…

Behind there were career-best results of fourth, fifth and sixth for Team Cooksport’s Rory Collingbourne, WDE Motorsport’s Rory Green and Cooksport’s George Jackson as well as a fine seventh on his Clio Cup debut for Team Pyro’s 16-year-old signing Josh Price.

BMR Restart-backed Sutton commented: “That was very hard work but so long as I kept my concentration and defended on the long run down to the Deene hairpin I always felt I had it covered. To convert P2 on the grid into a win is always nice and for tomorrow’s race I’m starting from pole…”

Hand added: “I really wanted the win but Sutton defended well and mid-race he started to edge away as my car seemed to struggle for pace a bit. In the end it was a really good race with Ant. I needed a bit of a lunge on him to get back to second but while it was very close it was very clean.”

Whorton-Eales said: “I caught up a bit with Paul (Rivett) and at one stage the Pyro boys had gone more than two seconds clear but as they started to fight I was able to close in and was able to take advantage and sneak by Hand into second. A shame he got me back near the end…”

WDE’s Charlie Ladell finished eighth while there was drama at the very last bend as a moment for 20Ten Racing’s Peter Felix allowed Pyro’s Mark Howard to pass him and claim honours in the Masters Cup class for older drivers.

Alas there were four retirements from the race, notably that of WDE’s Paul Rivett shortly before the finish while he was in fourth place having set the fastest lap. JamSport Racing’s Tom Grundy completed just two laps before stopping with damage to his car after an opening lap skirmish with Felix. 20Ten’s Graham Field and JamSport debutant Luke Kidsley were both out at the start when their cars made contact away from the grid.

CLICK HERE for the race result.

CLICK HERE for the overnight points standings.