Whorton-Eales ‘storms’ to victory in Rockingham race one

From tenth on the grid Ant Whorton-Eales has won the first of Rockingham’s two Renault UK Clio Cup races – held this afternoon in bizarre monsoon-like conditions and which ended in near darkness.
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JamSport’s Whorton-Eales was up to second half-way around the opening lap and straight after the race restarted following a safety car period he pounced exiting the banked Turned 1 to pass Paul Rivett for the lead.

From there he rapidly drew clear to win by nearly nine seconds as 4Front Motor Group with WDE’s Rivett spent the race fending off the attentions of Team Pyro’s Mike Bushell, who had started the race from pole position.

The result brings Whorton-Eales to within ten points of championship leader Bushell. Rivett stays fourth but is suddenly a lot closer to third-placed Max Coates who finished the race back in eighth after spinning out of fourth on the final lap…

The race was wet throughout but during the closing laps in particular the race felt as if it was taking place in the middle of the night as gale force winds swept in, bringing with them huge dark thundery clouds as well as more lightning.

With the UK Clio Cup cars’ headlights ablaze it meant a dramatic end to a highly unpredictable race as the positions behind the top three swapped continually as, it seemed, nearly every driver suffered some sort of drama.

Whorton-Eales's win is his seventh of the season. He also set the race's fastest lap for two bonus points. He commented: “What a race! I can’t recall driving in conditions like that. My start was very good and that got me into P2 to begin with. Then Rivett went low into Turn 1 at the restart and I knew the faster line would be higher up the banking so took full advantage. The car felt great in the wet and drawing clear wasn’t a problem.”

Rivett said: “When Ant was on my outside there my car was actually starting to slide up the banking towards him so I had to back out or I’d have taken us both out. Fair play to him, though, he clearly had the pace in that one.”

Bushell added: “It’s not the result I wanted. I had a bang with Max on the opening lap which affected the set-up of the car quite badly so and I couldn’t do much else to be honest.”

Behind Pyro’s David Dickenson took a career-best fourth while JamSport’s Chris Smiley was fifth. Dickenson had to fight back past Smiley in the closing stages after losing ground in a mid-race tangle which resulted in BMR-backed team-mate Senna Proctor retiring.

Having fallen outside the top dozen briefly, Josh Price (Pyro) recovered well to take sixth, the best-placed of the young first-year Graduate Cup drivers. Seventh, thanks to a similarly spirited recovery after losing many positions earlier, was WDE’s Charlie Ladell.

A fine ninth was Cooksport’s Shayne Deegan and Dan Zelos (Ciceley) survived a spin to complete the top ten. Next up came PP Motorsport’s Anton Spires, Ciceley’s Ollie Pidgley, JamSport’s George Jackson and Finesse’s Paul Streather. Cooksport pair Rory Collingbourne and Lee Pattison completed the finishers, the latter having lost a lap with a pit stop at the end of the opening lap. Pidgley and Streather had also pitted at the same time but were able to rejoin before being lapped…

Luke Kidsley (JamSport) joined Proctor in retirement after his car slid off the track while running fourth soon after the start.

CLICK HERE for the race result.

CLICK HERE for the overnight standings.