The pair are often seen getting on out of their cars but at Oulton Park recently things certainly intensified between them on track as they fought one another tooth and nail for victory in the two races there.
Both ultimately came away with a win and Bushell arrives at Croft with a 14-point buffer to Whorton-Eales at the top of the table.
“I suppose I’m looking forward to rekindling my love with Ant this weekend,” commented Bushell. “I wouldn’t call it ‘bromance’; in fact it’s a bit ‘Marmitey’. We do get on fine but you can’t deny there has been a bit of fire between us on track. Nothing malicious – it’s just hard racing.”
Bushell says leading the championship at this stage of the season is unfamiliar territory to him – in 2014 when he won the title he did not hit the front until the very last rounds. Furthermore Croft’s rounds in 2014 were among his worst that season and last year, when racing in the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship, the circuit struck him another blow…
“My shoulder popped out of its joint as I turned the steering wheel in the hairpin!” he recalled. “It’s not been the best for me but then again neither had Oulton until two weeks ago. I’ve not done any pre-season testing there so I’m keeping an open mind.
“I’m definitely back to really enjoying my motor sport now. This year has reminded me why I started racing in the first place – particularly when I’m in a position to challenge for decent results.
“I know I’m capable of winning the title but, yes, this is slightly new territory for me in that I’m leading before we’re even at the half-way stage. In 2014 I’d had such a bad first half of the season I actually gave up thinking about winning it which probably helped and it just came to me.”
Asked what he’s finding the hardest challenge at the moment, though, the reply is perhaps obvious.
“Racing against Ant!” said Bushell. “In qualifying I seem to have the speed but I’ve had a year away from the UK Clio Cup whereas Ant is still fresh from taking on (Ash) Hand and Ashley (Sutton) last season so maybe he’s a bit sharper.
“It’s an issue I need to address and I don’t mind admitting I did buckle under pressure with him right on my rear bumper in that second race at Oulton.”