Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) continued his sensational Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup qualifying form at Knockhill this morning, Saturday, 23rd August, after taking pole position for rounds 13 and 14 in an entertaining wet-but-drying session.
Kicking-off the day’s action at the Scottish venue, this weekend marking the first time the Clio Cup has travelled north of the border since 2010, the season-best 16 car entry encountered a slippery and challenging track surface initially before lap times improved significantly in the latter stages.
VitalRacing with Team Pyro driver Bushell, who made a one-off appearance in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship at Knockhill last year, was the only driver to dip below the 57 second bracket with a fastest time of 56.998 seconds (80.02mph). His second best effort of 57.239 seconds (79.68mph) made it his second successive double pole position haul.
“Double pole is great, I just need to make it count and work on my starts after Snetterton”, said the Kent driver, “Yesterday was a little bit of a struggle in testing, I had to go away and think about it last night and adapt to the track. Knockhill is more flowing than Snetterton which is more technical and stop-start. I’m really pleased.”
Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), who was quickest in the opening test session on Friday, will begin today’s encounter alongside Bushell on the front row after qualifying 0.181 seconds shy of the Pyro driver, while Whorton-Eales’ SV Racing with KX team-mate Ash Hand (Nuneaton) was a sensational third fastest, only a fraction slower.
Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) produced the fourth fastest time for 20Ten Racing with WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Banstead) – who had a lap time disallowed for exceeding track limits – and SV Racing’s Alex Morgan (Reading), the latter the pace-setter after testing on Friday, sharing the third row.
Most competitors started the session on treaded wet-weather Dunlops, championship leader Josh Cook (Bath) a notable exception. His early gamble paid dividends midway through the session as he topped the timing screens but he missed out on making any late improvements and had to be satisfied with seventh on the grid for this afternoon’s race and a starting slot of fifth for round 14.
For Sunday afternoon’s live, televised race Bushell will be joined on the front-row by Stilp with Hand and Whorton-Eales on row two, Cook and Rivett on row three and Morgan and WDE’s Charlie Ladell (Felixstowe) sharing the fourth row.
Scottish racer Finlay Crocker (Bathgate), making a welcome one-off return to the championship this weekend at his local track with Team Pyro, qualified 13th fastest for both races and he, like Rivett, lost a lap time after being adjudged to have exceeded track limits. Series newcomer Jamie Clarke (Formby) starts one place ahead of Crocker in each encounter in his SV Racing-entered Clio.
Masters Cup points leader Lee Pattison (Scholes) had a frustrating end to his session when he was forced to park his car in the pits with a belt problem, having earlier run wide. Despite looking on course for a top four overall start, he ended the session 10th overall and second to Rivett in class.
Round 13 is scheduled to get underway at 15.50 this afternoon with round 14 – which will be shown live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD – taking place at 12.30 on Sunday, 24th August.
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup standings (after Rd12):
1st Josh Cook, 301pts; 2nd James Colburn, 267pts; 3rd Mike Bushell, 253pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd12):
1st Josh Cook, 317pts; 2nd James Colburn, 311pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 288pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd12):
1st Lee Pattison, 360pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 293pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 253pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd12):
1st SV Racing with KX, 631pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 465pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 427pts