Title contenders Bushell and Cook share Rockingham poles

Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup title rivals Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) and Josh Cook (Bath) claimed a pole position apiece during a fogbound qualifying session at Northamptonshire’s Rockingham International Super Sportscar Circuit this morning, Saturday, 6th September.

With thick fog worsening during the earlier Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship practice, the start to the Clio session was delayed by around 15 minutes and even when the action did get underway the conditions remained difficult with less than ideal visibility.

Championship leader Cook set the pace from the outset at the wheel of his SV Racing with KX car, getting down to business immediately with two very quick lap times and circulating significantly faster than his rivals.

After an early red flag stoppage though, caused when JamSport newcomer Dan Holland (Dagenham) slid off the track into the gravel when getting his braking wrong, Bushell came to the fore having remained in the pits for the opening third of the session following an early installation lap.

Grabbing the round 15 pole position with a lap of 1m30.384 seconds (77.27mph) with seven minutes remaining, the VitalRacing with Team Pyro driver shaded Cook by 0.120 seconds – the latter will have to start this afternoon’s encounter from 12th place on the grid, though, due to a 10 position grid penalty from the previous round at Knockhill.

“That’s three events in a row now we’ve had pole, I’ve just got to make it count in the race”, said Bushell, “[Josh] Cook had the legs on me yesterday, but we’ve hit back today and I’m definitely edging forward. The important thing is to keep Cook behind me, I’ve got to capitalise on his penalty.”

Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), therefore, begins round 15 from the front-row of the grid alongside Bushell and also starts from the Graduate Cup class pole. His SV Racing with KX team-mate Alex Morgan (Reading) will begin today’s encounter from third on the grid with Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) completing row two.

Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) heads row three for 20Ten Racing with SV Racing’s Ash Hand (Nuneaton) sixth on the grid and Pyro’s Lee Pattison (Scholes) claiming the Masters Cup class pole with seventh, ahead of chief rival Paul Rivett (Banstead) in his WDE Motorsport-run Clio.

On second fastest times, Cook did secure the round 16 pole position with an effort almost identical to his best of all. Bushell will line-up alongside him on the front row, with Colburn and Stilp third and fourth, Whorton-Eales fifth and Rivett on the Masters pole in sixth place.

“To be honest we were concentrating on the second fastest lap”, commented Cook, “I went out and did two quick times which put me P1 for both and then, mid-session, people started to go a bit quicker so I went out again and put in another time to improve on my second fastest.

“All the others were bunched up and towing each other around, I was on my own and banging in the lap times so we know we’ve got really good race pace and tyres that are good with so few laps. It’s as good as it could be really. Visibility was fine, it wasn’t really an issue – as long as the marshals can see you and you can see them, it’s perfectly safe.”

Several of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup racers are running decals on their cars this weekend to show support for a fantastic cause, Diabetes UK, in memory of Richard Mayne from Leicestershire who tragically lost his life in the MH17 air disaster and who had lived with Type 1 diabetes since he was eight years-of-age.

To find out more and to offer donations, visit: www.justgiving.com/Richard-Mayne2/

Round 15 of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup season is timetabled to get underway at 15.00 this afternoon with round 16 following tomorrow, Sunday, 7th September, at 13.00. The second race of the weekend will be screened live on ITV4, ITV4 HD and streamed online at the www.itv.com/btcc website.

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 – inc. drop scores):
1st Josh Cook, 312pts; 2nd Mike Bushell, 300pts; 3rd James Colburn, 272pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd14 – inc. drop scores):
1st Josh Cook, 334pts; 2nd James Colburn, 317pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 309pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd14 – inc. drop scores):
1st Lee Pattison, 364pts; 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, 733pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 554pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 487pts