Three young drivers – Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), Ash Hand (Nuneaton) and Ashley Sutton (Bishops Stortford) – currently lead the way but are being chased hard by vastly-experienced three-time Champion Paul Rivett (Epsom).
Knockhill marks the first two of eight races that will decide the outcome of the Clio Cup title and each driver is sure to start feeling the pressure soon. Adding to the tension is what winning the crown can mean with more than half the drivers on the grid in the star-studded Dunlop British Touring Car Championship (alongside which the Clio Cup races) having come from Renaultsport categories.
Indeed from here on in it will all be played out in front of massive trackside crowds as well as live ITV4 cameras…
And whoever goes on to be crowned the 2015 Clio Cup Champion will win a test in Renaultsport’s sensational new 550hp R.S 0.1 sports/GT racer with the top two also getting runs in a BTCC car, courtesy of tyre supplier Dunlop.
And so to Knockhill which is notorious for producing drama aplenty: last year at the Scottish track Josh Cook saw a 48-point lead over Mike Bushell all but evaporate in just two days before the latter then went on a title-winning run of results (both are now on the BTCC grid).
This time around it’s much closer with 50 points covering the top four. In fact just five points separate leader Whorton-Eales and second-placed Hand with a maximum of 272 still to be played for (32 per win plus a bonus two for setting the race’s fastest lap).
Currently it’s five wins to Team Pyro’s Hand, two apiece for Whorton-Eales – who this weekend joins new team Maximum Motorsport – and Team BMR with Pyro’s Sutton and one for WDE Motorsport’s Rivett.
While it might appear to be a four-way fight for the crown, there are plenty of other drivers who could have a say in the outcome – particularly as those at the head of the table perhaps begin treading more carefully on occasion in fear of tripping up at such a crucial stage of the season.
Exciting teenage talents Jack Mitchell (West Kingsdown) and Charlie Ladell (Ipswich) have both switched teams – to 20Ten Racing and WDE respectively – and are embroiled in a close scrap for fifth overall (both have shared the Graduates Cup class wins this season with Sutton).
Cooksport pair Rory Collingbourne (Newport, South Wales) and George Jackson (Bedford) plus JamSport duo Dan Holland (Dagenham) and Thomas Grundy (Dubai) were also showing signs of big results just prior to the mid-season break. Pyro’s Mark Howard, who leads the Masters Cup for older drivers, is also capable of mixing it with this crowd…
For Knockhill, Cooksport has also lured back proven Clio Cup race-winner Lee Pattison who could be a thorn in the side of those involved in the title race…