As ever the Clio Cup is racing alongside the star-studded Dunlop British Touring Car Championship meaning an anticipated bumper crowd – especially given Donington’s location and easy access from surrounding cities such as Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Stoke.
The treble bill comes about because one of the Clio Cup’s opening two rounds at Brands Hatch on Easter weekend needed rescheduling. It therefore means one race on the Saturday at Donington and two on Sunday…
Donington ‘local’ Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) leads the standings but only after he controversially muscled his way past disgruntled BMR Restart-backed rival Ashley Sutton (Bishops Stortford) at the final bend to win at Brands Hatch. Neither was talking to the other afterwards and there is obvious tension in the air between them as they arrive at Whorton-Eales’s home circuit.
And that rivalry extends to their respective SV Racing and Team Pyro teams, each eager to outsmart the other in the Entrants championship. Currently it is Leicestershire-based Pyro leading the way thanks to Sutton’s team-mate and another Donington local, Ash Hand (Nuneaton), also getting in on the act to finish a close third at Brands.
Hoping to capitalise and keep up a strong start to the season will be Derby-based squad 20Ten Racing with its lead driver Jordan Stilp (Towcester), fourth at Brands Hatch. So too Charles Ladell (racing for Touring Car ace Josh Cook’s new Cooksport squad), Pyro’s Brett Smith (son of touring car driver Jeff) and, with an unrivalled seven wins at Donington, triple champ Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport).
Cooksport’s Paul Knapp (ninth at Brands) leads the Masters Cup for older drivers which also features 20Ten’s Mark Howard and Graham Field (both local to Donington, hailing from Oakham and Nottingham respectively), plus SVR’s Ben Seyfried.
Meanwhile SVR’s Jack Mitchell – a double Donington winner last year en route to the Ginetta Junior crown – as well Rorys Collingbourne (Cooksport) and Green (WDE) plus 1976 Formula 1 World Champion James Hunt’s son Freddie (BKR) will all want more than their Brands Hatch debuts produced.
Finally spare a thought for the JamSport squad – while George Jackson gave it an eighth-place finish at Brands Hatch the cars of its two other drivers, Dan Holland and Tom Grundy, were left in a sorry state after the crash that halted Saturday’s ill-fated race there (rescheduled for this weekend). The Northants-based outfit is in a race against time to have both cars repaired in time for tomorrow’s (Thursday) official Clio Cup test at Donington...