Double pole for Hand at Thruxton as Holland also stars in qualifying

Ash Hand (Nuneaton) took two pole positions and team-mate Ashley Sutton (Bishops Stortford) two seconds in qualifying for tomorrow’s pair of Renault UK Clio Cup rounds at Hampshire’s Thruxton circuit, but it was a tough session for championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales who could manage only the seventh and 11th fastest times.
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Team Pyro’s Hand set a best lap time of one minute, 23.321 seconds. His second best lap of 1m23.521s was also faster than anyone else’s to give him pole for race two as well. Sutton, in his BMR Restart-liveried car, was next up each time to make it an all-Pyro front row for both starting grids.

The revelation of qualifying was Dan Holland (Dagenham) – third fastest for both races despite having never competed before at Thruxton, the most daunting circuit on the calendar because of its high speeds. His performance provides a major boost for the JamSport Racing team in its first full Clio Cup season. Triple Champion, WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Epsom) will line up alongside Holland on both grids having set two fourth fastest times.

Hand commented: “My race one pole I did with a tow from Ashley but my race two pole time I did without a tow which reinforces our pace here. The track may well change again tomorrow – it’s forecast to be less blustery – which will affect turn-in points and limit the slipstreaming effect so there’ll be a lot of thinking on your feet involved in the races. I could do with a win or two to really get back into it after my retirement at Donington.”

The session did not work out for SV Racing’s Whorton-Eales who goes into tomorrow’s two races with a 22-point advantage over nearest challenger Sutton with 32 points available for a win. Sutton clearly senses an opportunity to close in on Whorton-Eales.

He said: “I said earlier in the week I wanted to claw back some of that ground here and with Ant back there I’ve obviously got a good chance. But it didn’t quite work out for me in qualifying – Ash and I worked on giving each other a tow but each time it was my turn a few slower cars got in the way. I’m not too bothered – there are no points for qualifying and I know there’s more time up my sleeve.”

Holland added: “I’m really happy with that – it’s by far my best qualifying since I came into the Clio Cup late last year – and it’s given everyone in the team a real lift. I knew the two Pyro boys were going to give each other a slipstream so I made sure I tucked in behind them and let them give me a tow as well which is what you need around here. I really believe I can give them a fight tomorrow.”

Meanwhile two fifths went the way of former title protagonist James Colburn (Worthing) – making a one-off return with the Team BKR squad. JamSport’s George Jackson was sixth for race one but Team Cooksport’s Rory Collingbourne (Newport) took that place for race two’s grid. Currently third in the championship, 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp (Towcester) took eighth and seventh places for tomorrow’s two grids.

Click here for the full times for both grids.

Tomorrow’s two Clio Cup races – both 12 laps – take place at 11.20am and 3.50pm and will be shown during ITV4’s live coverage of the event.