Mike Bushell made a strong impression with race-winning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship team Airwaves Racing at Snetterton 300 Circuit today, Wednesday, 29th October, during a special prize test for winning the 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup title.
Provided by tyre giant Dunlop, the official supplier to the BTCC and the Renault UK Clio Cup, the test enabled Bushell to not only get behind the wheel of an NGTC [Next Generation Touring Car] Ford Focus for the first time, it also afforded him the chance to experience Dunlop’s ‘soft’ BTCC tyres.
With coaching from series front-runner and former Clio Cup racer Mat Jackson, Tunbridge Wells driver Bushell enjoyed a couple of installation runs in dry conditions at the Norfolk track before going on to complete a full race distance on the soft rubber.
Working closely with the engineers from Motorbase Performance, the squad behind Airwaves Racing, the recently crowned Renault UK Clio Cup Champion was thrilled with the experience which has, unsurprisingly, only heightened his desire to be on the touring car grid in 2015
“The BTCC car is definitely a different beast to the Clio”, explained the 25-year-old, “It’s a lot heavier, there’s a lot more grip and obviously more power. I found the limit a few times, mowed the lawn, but it was an amazing experience – it’s been like Christmas come early.
“I was very surprised by the soft tyres and it was a good opportunity to test them. I was amazed at how quickly they drop off, when I felt the grip max-up I took a little bit too much out of them. I’ve got aspirations to be in the BTCC next year and this prize was almost like a first test for that. Big thanks to Dunlop, the guys at Airwaves and Renault UK for such an amazing opportunity.”
Reflecting on Bushell’s performance, Airwaves Racing team manager Olly Collins said: “We did a couple of short runs, which were more familiarisation than anything, and then Mike had his race run on the soft tyre which was quite a challenging thing to do. After the warm-up procedure he then had to manage the tyre and did a good job.
“Running on softs was probably the most challenging thing Mike could have done really, he set a good time early on and had a very good approach with good feedback. Obviously, he is looking at progressing into touring cars sooner rather than later and so the experience was very valuable for him. Mike was good to work with and he did seem to enjoy himself!”
Renault UK’s motorsport programme, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is renowned for its development of aspiring professional touring car, sportscar and single-seater drivers. In terms of the ladder of progression to touring cars, a third of the 2014 BTCC grid progressed from Renault championships – including recent Clio Cup champions Jack Goff (2012) and Dave Newsham (2010).
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.