Westbourne Motorsport made a dream start to the opening weekend of the Renault UK Clio Cup during pre-event practice at Brands Hatch today, Friday, 29th March, with Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) and James Colburn (Worthing) locking out the top two positions on the combined timesheets.
The team-mates’ respective quickest times came during the bitterly cold morning session at the 1.2-mile Indy Circuit, Bushell lapping in 52.763 seconds (82.41mph) to just shade Colburn – who was the fastest of the Graduate Cup class runners – by a mere 0.057 seconds.
“Looking at the end of last year and how competitive I was in the final round, I always wondered if it was a bit of a one off but obviously not!”, commented 23-year-old Bushell, “Winter testing has gone really well for us and having James [Colburn] as a team-mate is great, we’ve really been pushing each other on and it’s all come together well. Hopefully we can continue this through the weekend.”
Leading the way in the afternoon outing, which was just as crisp as the first, was Team Pyro’s Josh Files (Norwich) who ended the day third quickest overall with a time of 52.828 seconds (82.31mph), an improvement of over a tenth of a second on his earlier best.
Behind the lead trio, KX Akademy with Scuderia Vittoria driver Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) was fourth on combined times with a best second session lap of 52.870 seconds (82.25mph) with Finesse Motorsport’s Jake Giddings (Wisbech) fifth overall with a time of 52.926 seconds (82.16mph).
Total Control Racing’s Rob Smith (Telford) rounded out the top six with his final lap of the day, a best of 52.932 seconds (82.15mph) helping him shade Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) in the second of the KX Akademy cars by just 0.005 seconds.
In the Masters Cup, meanwhile, reigning class champion Simon Belcher (Swindon) led the way in both sessions for his Handy Motorsport with Pyro squad and concluded the day with a quickest time of 53.387 seconds (81.45mph).
Marking the first group test with each of the 23 registered competitors present, the competitiveness of the UK’s premier one-make saloon car championship is as remarkable as ever with only a second covering the top 22 cars. The weekend certainly promises plenty in the way of classic Clio Cup action.
Qualifying for rounds one and two of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup season will take place at 12.00 tomorrow, Saturday, 30th March, at Brands Hatch with both races to follow on Sunday, 31st March – the first at 10.20 and the second, which will be screened live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, at 15.35.
Renault UK Clio Cup is sponsored by www.buyoils.co.uk with support from ELF, NGK Spark Plugs, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.