Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) secured his third win of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup season during round 14 at Knockhill in Scotland this afternoon, Sunday, 24th August, to perfectly cap off a tremendous double-podium finishing weekend and climb into the championship top four.
Getting the jump on pole position starter Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) off the line, Stilp steered his 20Ten Racing Clio Cup car into a clear 1.5 second lead on the opening lap and controlled the race from the front. During the closing stages, though, the spectacular Ash Hand (Nuneaton) piled on the pressure in his SV Racing with KX car and at the flag on lap 20 only 0.2 seconds separated the pair.
“It’s absolutely great”, said an elated Stilp, “After yesterday [third place] we thought that might be our best result for the weekend, but we went into today’s race with high hopes, messed around with the car a little bit, and I was able to make a gap at the start which helped out more towards the end. It’s been a great weekend, huge thanks to my dad and everyone who has supported me.”
While Stilp was able to scamper into the distance at the beginning, Bushell went in the opposite direction over the first few laps with a suspected engine problem limiting his pace. SV Racing’s Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), who was fast away from the line once again, as he was on Saturday, took second place at the start of lap two at Duffus Dip with Hand then sizing up an attack on Bushell.
At the hairpin, though, there was drama for points leader Josh Cook (Bath) and multiple champion Paul Rivett (Banstead) when the former produced a late move on the brakes to try and take fifth place. The resulting contact delayed both drivers, with Rivett pitched into a spin, and while Cook was able to recover into eighth place, Rivett was down in 11th position at the finish.
Back at the front, Hand made short work of Bushell to move into the top three and set about closing down team-mate Whorton-Eales which he did very rapidly. Posting the fastest lap of the race on the fourth tour, bettering his own lap record from Saturday’s encounter, Hand moved ahead on lap five at the hairpin.
Although 2.5 seconds shy of Stilp at the start of lap six, Hand chipped away at the leader’s advantage and during the final quarter of the 20-lap contest he really applied the pressure with, quite possibly, his best drive yet in Renault Clios.
“It’s disappointing I didn’t get the win, to be honest I didn’t get off the line, the same as yesterday”, said Hand, “We had a new clutch at Snetterton and absolutely romped off the line there, gained three or four positions, but I seemed to go back three or four positions here – it was such hard work.
“Once we’re going, we’re so fast. It seems like no car this weekend was as fast as ours – we could just overtake and go, overtake and go. We’ve got the ultimate pace, just not the start we wanted, but this is great for me and the KX Akademy. It’s nice to be back on the podium.”
Whorton-Eales held onto third place until lap nine when he clattered the kerbs heavily going into Clark’s which launched his Clio onto two wheels. Running wide off the circuit, he rejoined in fourth behind Bushell who was able to pull clear in the end – his earlier power troubles not a factor during the second part of the race – to secure another podium to add to his round 13 win.
Bushell’s excellent points haul, combined with one of Cook’s least successful race meetings of the season, mean the VitalRacing with Team Pyro driver has closed to within 16 points of the championship leader with four races remaining.
“I got an engine problem, during the first few laps every time I changed gear it was just dropping power”, explained Bushell, “Ant [Whorton-Eales] and Ash [Hand] just drove past me like I was stood still, there was something strange but the important thing for me is that [Josh] Cook finished down the order so that’s another good chunk of points for my championship hopes – a good weekend.”
Lee Pattison (Scholes), somewhat aided early on by the Cook and Rivett incident, made fantastic progress from ninth on the grid to finish in fifth position overall and win the Masters Cup class for the seventh time this season.
The Pyro driver battled his way through a tightly packed bunch which featured WDE Motorsport’s Charlie Ladell (Felixstowe), Westbourne Motorsport team-mates Devon Modell (Maidstone) and James Colburn (Worthing) and SV Racing’s Alex Morgan (Reading).
After Pattison took fifth from Ladell at Scotsman on lap 12, the Clio rookie then ran slightly wide at the chicane to drop to eighth behind Modell and Colburn. Ladell was then edged back to ninth on lap 17 when the recovering Cook moved past for eighth on the run towards the first corner. Morgan rounded-out the top 10 finishers.
Post-race, series leader Cook was served with a three point endorsement on his racing licence and a three point deduction from his championship total for his part in the tangle with Rivett. He was also handed a 10 place grid penalty for the next round, in addition to the three place penalty the points deduction incurred. Colburn, therefore, moves back to the top of the Graduate Cup class by a point.
Next on the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup schedule is the annual visit to Rockingham ISSC in Northamptonshire just a fortnight from now, over the weekend 6th/7th September.
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 Rd14):
1st Josh Cook, 326pts; 2nd Mike Bushell, 310pts; 3rd James Colburn, 299pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd14):
1st James Colburn, 355pts; 2nd Josh Cook, 354pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 345pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd14):
1st Lee Pattison, 420pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 353pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 268pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd14):
1st SV Racing with KX, 731pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 554pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 487pts