Team Pyro’s Bushell, the current points leader, set the fastest time outright of one minute, 22.207 seconds to secure pole position for race one – his time was close to a full second under the previous qualifying record around the Hampshire circuit.
Furthermore his average lap speed – 103.17mph – is the highest ever recorded during an official UK Clio Cup session during a race event.
WDE Motorsport’s Zelos – on pole last time out at Donington Park – pushed Bushell closest with a best lap of 1m22.540s to take second on the grid while Pyro’s Nathan Harrison and Westbourne Motorsport’s James Dorlin were a career-best third and fourth. Pyro pair Ash Hand – a double winner here in 2015 – and Jack McCarthy completed the top six.
The qualifying session then got even better for Bushell for he’d also set the best second fastest time of anyone – thus ensuring he will start on pole for race two on Sunday as well. It is Bushell’s second ‘double pole’ in a row at Thruxton after he achieved the feat in 2016…
Zelos was again his nearest challenger, this time ahead of McCarthy, Dorlin and his WDE team-mates Lee Pattison and Paul Rivett.
Putting even more of a smile on Bushell’s face was the fact this his current closest championship rival, Ciceley Motorsport’s Max Coates, could qualify no higher than tenth and then 12th for the two races.
Bushell commented: “Perfect – just perfect. We were fastest in testing here a couple of weeks ago and the car feels terrific again. I’m wary I started both races from pole here 12 months ago and it didn’t go my way in the races – I’d like to put that right tomorrow. I’ve got a great opportunity to increase my championship lead.”
Zelos said: “This shows Donington was no flash in the pan and I have to say thanks to Lee and Paul – we worked together as team-mates giving each other a tow and it worked out really well for me.”
Harrison was elated with his third place for race one’s grid. He enthused: “It’s my first year in the UK Clio Cup and I’m really getting on top of the car now. I’m over the moon with that – I can really put up a good race from there.”
Dorlin, who narrowly leads the Graduates Cup class for young, first-year drivers ahead of Harrison and McCarthy, reflected: “My third UK Clio Cup event and two fourths on the grid – I have to be happy with that considering I didn’t qualifying inside the top at either Brands Hatch or Donington.”
Tomorrow’s two races – rounds five and six of this year’s UK Clio Cup – take place at 10.40am and 3.15pm. Action from them will be shown during ITV4’s live coverage of the event which runs from 11.15am to 6.30pm and will also include the British Touring Car Championship’s latest three races of 2017.
Leading grid positions, Thruxton Race 1:
1. Mike Bushell (Team Pyro), 1m22.207s
2. Dan Zelos (WDE Motorsport), +.0333s
3. Nathan Harrison (Team Pyro), +0.375s
4. James Dorlin (Westbourne Motorsport), +0.386s
5. Ash Hand (Team Pyro), +0.481s
6. Jack McCarthy (Team Pyro), +0.498s
7. Lee Pattison (WDE Motorsport), +0.543s
8. James Colburn (PP Motorsport/Westbourne), +0.570s
9. Paul Rivett (4Front/Tachosys/WDE Motorsport) +0.638s
10. Max Coates (Ciceley Motorsport), +0.809s
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Leading grid positions, Thruxton Race 2:
1. Mike Bushell (Team Pyro), 1m22.342s
2. Dan Zelos (WDE Motorsport), +.0376s
3. Jack McCarthy (Team Pyro), +0.419s
4. James Dorlin (Westbourne Motorsport), +0.453s
5. Lee Pattison (WDE Motorsport), +0.489s
6. Paul Rivett (4Front/Tachosys/WDE Motorsport), +0.595s
7. James Colburn (PP Motorsport/Westbourne), +0.711s
8. Ash Hand (Team Pyro), +0.773s
9. Ollie Pidgley (Team Pyro), +0.788s
10. Nathan Harrison (Team Pyro), +0.856s
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