At a wet and windy Thruxton, it was Team Pyro’s Adam Bonham who took pole position for Round 5 of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup. Close behind was fellow teammate Josh Files in second and Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn third.
The first wet session of the season saw a bumper field take to the UK’s fastest circuit for qualifying ahead of today’s race. Bonham (Kibworth), is still looking for his first win of the season having already scored several podium positions. The 17-year old snatched his first pole of the season from Files with just 0.002secs separating the pair.
‘It was really slippery with a lot of understeer,’ said Bonham. ‘But at the start of the session we were able to get a good couple of laps in. We were quite aggressive and constantly pushed for the front.’
‘It’s my first pole so I’m obviously really happy and excited. For tomorrow’s race, I want to get a good start, get away and hopefully take the win, but we will do what we can for tomorrow.’
Josh Files (Norwich), backed as part of the Direct Debit’s Big Break campaign, kept his qualifying form, taking another front row position for the start of the first race and fourth for the second.
Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) sits third on the grid for today’s race but leads Bonham from pole position in round six tomorrow.
‘It was good,’ said the 2011 Clio Cup joint runner-up. ‘We sat in the pitlane at the start for about ten minutes to let everyone go out and waited for them to come in so we could have a clear track. With these tyres they go off early, so we only get very limited use out of them. We had to push as soon as we came out of the pits. I got third for today, which is a shame because we had a bit of a problem on my fastest lap and could have gone quicker. But it shows that we have the race pace.’
Highest place Rookie Cup driver, Ignas Gelzinis (Lithuania) produced an outstanding lap and took a personal best and fourth overall. The Lithuanian only 0.161secs from pole sitter Bonham, preferring the tricky wet conditions.
‘It was really good, it is my best position of the season,’ said Gelzinis. ‘Still, I think on my fastest laps I was held up by the other guys and could not make the best lap. We decided the result was the best for me so we stopped in order to save the tyres. I would love to finish in the top ten, but we will see.’
Championship leader Jack Goff (Stokenchurch) found the wet conditions challenging, only managing fifth place for the first race, but fourth for tomorrow’s second race.
‘It was bit of an unknown in the wet,’ claimed the Clio Cup podium regular. ‘You have to go out there and see if the grip is there and get the best out of it while it’s there.’
‘A podium is the aim and another consistent points finish making sure we don’t crash the car.’
Having had a big accident last year, Total Control Racing’s Nic Hamilton (Tewin) achieved a season best seventh place on the grid. In only his second year of the AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup, he showed impressive form and surprisingly preferred the wet conditions hoping the bad weather would continue for round five later today.
‘I really enjoyed it,’ expressed Hamilton. ‘The weather is really good, but I have to learn to control the understeer. The wet tyres are very unique and I’m very happy to be in the top ten, hopefully we can have a good race from there. ‘
With tricky conditions and new tyres, it was three-time champion Paul Rivett (Banstead) who was unable to put in the performance he wanted and eventually had to settle for ninth place, but sits fifth for the second race of the weekend.
‘I didn’t make the best of the new tyres. I’ve never driven this car on these tyres before.‘ said the PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver. ‘Last year when we had a wet race we didn’t make the right decisions, but this time we did but we didn’t make enough of them on the first few laps and that’s what cost us.’
‘There was a lot more grip than I expected, which was what caught us out. The tyres were absolutely great, but for only two or three laps. Hopefully we will be in a better position for race two with two identical laps, but we will have to wait and see for that one.’
Elsewhere, Aaron Williamson (Holbeach) retired early in the session having only completed six laps due to brake problems.
In the Masters Cup, KÄRCHER sponsored Simon Belcher (Swindon) heads the field, starting fifteenth and fourteenth respectively.
Finally, Rookie championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales sits in sixteenth place giving himself a lot to do in order to hold his Rookie Cup championship lead.
The first AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup race at Thruxton starts today at 16.40, with the second race at 13.00, tomorrow 29th April.
Clio Cup action will feature in the live ITV broadcast of the opening rounds of the new BTCC season, which will air on ITV4 and ITV4 HD from Sunday morning throughout the day and will also be available on www.itv.com.
Qualifying – Round 5 – Classification
Adam BONHAM Team Pyro 1:30.959
Josh FILES Team Pyro 1:30.961
James COLBURN Westbourne Motorsport 1:31.037
Ignas GELZINIS Juta Racing 1:31.120
Jack GOFF Team Pyro 1:31.126
Kim ANDERSSON Team Pyro 1:31.134
Nic HAMILTON Total Control Racing 1:31.181
Mike BUSHELL MBR 1:31.227
Paul RIVETT PER HIRE/SVE 1:31.425
James DIXON Scuderia Vittoria 1:31.617
Luke WRIGHT Scuderia Vittoria 1:31.674
Adam GOULD Stancombe Vehicle Engineering 1:31.923
Josh COOK 20Ten Racing 1:32.275
Vic COVEY Scuderia Vittoria 1:32.530
Simon BELCHER Handy Motorsport with Pyro 1:31.539
Ant WHORTON-EALES Westbourne Motorsport 1:32.779
Jake GIDDINGS Finesse Motorsport Ltd 1:32.890
Ronnie KLOS Scuderia Vittoria 1:32.964
Rob SMITH Total Control Racing 1:33.267
Aaron WILLIAMSON Finesse Motorsport Ltd 1:33.713
William DAVISON Westbourne Motorsport 1:34.084
Tautvydas BARSTYS Juta Racing 1:34.124
Finlay CROCKER Scuderia Vittoria 1:34.375
Darren WILSON 20Ten Racing 1:34.563