Snetterton 300 Circuit provided one of the most action-packed Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup races of the season this afternoon, Saturday, 2nd August, with championship leader Josh Cook (Bath) emerging on top in round 11 to seal his fourth victory of the year for SV Racing with KX.
Out-dragging the VitalRacing with Team Pyro car of pole position qualifier Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) off the line, Cook remained at the front – albeit under significant pressure – until lap six when 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) managed to edge ahead through the infield. Hitting back into Palmer on lap seven, Cook eventually pulled away to win by 1.8 seconds.
“I just had to get off the line cleanly”, said Cook, who has increased his lead to 22 points, “Obviously, [Mike] Bushell has been quick all weekend but I managed to get away, get in front of him and keep out of the carnage behind me. It was great fun, a really great race and fantastic to come out on top for the SV Racing with KX guys. We’ll have to see what we can do tomorrow – hopefully the same!”
Round 11 was certainly one of the most spectacular races of the campaign so far with action aplenty from the turbo-charged, fourth generation racing Clios. While Cook managed to get ahead of Bushell on the run to Riches, Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) made the best start of anyone from fourth on the grid to surge into the top three and he then displaced Bushell for second.
Into lap two, Cook held a lead of just 0.4 seconds over team-mate Whorton-Eales with Bushell glued to the back of the second SV Racing with KX car and Stilp, Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) and Pyro’s Lee Pattison (Scholes) all queuing up behind.
The first of many dramatic moments among the leaders came on the second tour at the exit of Agostini when Bushell was edged out wide while locked in battle with Stilp, the loss of momentum for the pole qualifier seeing him tumble down to seventh position.
Stilp, therefore, moved into third but Bushell quickly set about trying to recover and on lap three he was already into the top five. After getting ahead of Whorton-Eales, Stilp set about pressuring Cook for the lead and as the race hit mid-distance there was still nothing to separate the lead group.
Particularly fast through the infield section, Stilp swarmed all over the back of Cook’s car but the series leader didn’t crack. Then, on lap six at Hamilton, Stilp and Cook went into the turn side-by-side with the former bouncing across the grass on the outside. Incredibly, Stilp rejoined without losing pace and, with the inside line for Oggies, he managed to grab the lead as Cook gave him room.
The next time around at Palmer, though, Cook managed to move back to the front and the delay for Stilp on the outside line dropped him to fifth. Adding even more spice to an already red-hot contest, light rain drops then began to fall although the precipitation didn’t become anything significant.
Having spent most of the race under huge pressure, Cook was able to relax on lap eight when the battle over the remaining podium places enabled the leader to pull well clear. With a cushion of over three seconds into lap nine, Cook’s fourth win of 2014 and fifth Graduate Cup success were secure.
Bushell, having recovered superbly, took second place from Whorton-Eales at the end of lap eight when the KX driver got his Clio seriously out of shape at the chicane. Falling to fifth, Whorton-Eales dropped back further to sixth before the finish.
Over the last couple of laps Bushell pushed hard and set the fastest lap on the final tour to close the gap to Cook down from 3.3 seconds to just 1.8 seconds. Colburn took his fifth podium of the year after a fantastic drive to third, from eighth on the grid, with Stilp fourth and WDE Motorsport’s Charlie Ladell (Felixstowe) a superb season-best fifth.
“I got mugged”, reflected Bushell on the start, “I pulled the clutch up too quick, got a load of wheelspin, it was one of those things. It was an entertaining race, I tried to get second hard the way, but I’m pleased with the result and with another lap I think I could have been on the tail of Cook.”
Third placed Colburn said: “I got fuel surge in qualifying on my fastest lap when I was half a second up, so that was quite unfortunate. We battled through, made a few places on the first lap, made up some more and then got punted so fell back to eighth. After getting third again, I’m really pleased.”
Behind Whorton-Eales, Westbourne’s Devon Modell (Maidstone) was seventh, Pattison was eighth – winning the Masters Cup – and Alex Morgan (Reading) finished ninth after sustaining damage to his Clio on the opening lap during an incident in the pack which also eliminated Paul Rivett (Banstead).
Mark Howard (Westborough) rounded out the top 10 top take second in the Masters Cup, over eight seconds clear of 20Ten Racing team-mate Craig Milner (Matlock) and championship newcomer Paul Knapp (Farningham). Tied together throughout the 10-lapper, Knapp was less than 0.2 seconds shy at the finish.
Ash Hand (Nuneaton) produced a storming opening to the race and after scything his way through into seventh place from 12th on the grid on lap one, he was into the top four just a couple of laps later. Contact, though, on the sixth tour led to a pit visit and retirement with damage.
The second race of the weekend, round 12 of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup season, will start at 11.10 tomorrow, Sunday, 3rd August, with ‘as-live’ television coverage expected during the afternoon on the ITV4 and ITV4 HD broadcast from Snetterton.
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 Rd11):
1st Josh Cook, 269pts; 2nd James Colburn, 247pts; 3rd Mike Bushell, 233pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd11):
1st James Colburn, 286pts; 2nd Josh Cook, 285pts; 3rd Jordan Stilp, 269pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd11):
1st Lee Pattison, 332pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 261pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 228pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd11):
1st SV Racing with KX, 574pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 423pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 391pts