The first qualifying session of the 2012 AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup began in hectic fashion on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit, with several spins and flags, but it was last year’s highest placed rookie Josh Files (Norwich) who emerged from the madness to take double pole positions, leading three-time Clio Cup championPaul Rivett and Jack Goff (High Wycombe) in second and third respectively.
Before the session got underway, the red flag made its first of two appearances on the out lap as Josh Files (Norwich), in his second year with Team Pyro, collided with the barrier damaging his front bumper avoiding his fellow teammate.
Back under green flag conditions, Jack Goff was quick to top the times and was lookingstrong throughout the session. He was closely challenged by PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering run Paul Rivett, both setting an exact time on lap 13 with 52.915secs.
Josh Files returned to the track with intent after his Team Pyro made hasty but spectacular repairs to his car, placing himself immediately into second place.
At the halfway mark, it was Goff who continued to lead the time sheets with an aggressive Files chasing him down to make up for his earlier spin. Remarkably the top 18 were all within one second of each other throughout.
With five minutes remaining on the clock, it was Team Pyro’s 17-year old Adam Bonham (Leicestershire), jumping to the top. The Ginetta Junior graduate showing his impressive form.
Flying throughout the qualifying session, Files put in an astonishing pole settingtime of 52.091secs towards the end of the 30 minute session then almost immediately set a similar time 0.002secs adrift to taking pole for Round 2,establishing himself as a title contender for the year ahead.
Speaking after qualifying, Files was looking ahead ‘Qualifying started a bit funny, in the wall to be precise, I was not expecting it. I Came out of Druids and put my foot down, Jack Goff was there warming his tyres up, so for avoidance, I ended up in the wall, which wasn’t ideal, but we tag tapped it together and luckily it was going straight. So I went out there, put a new set of tyres on and went quickest and stayed there for quite a while.’
‘I’m ecstatic to be on pole for races 1 & 2,’ said Files, ‘and the times are even better of a 52.091 and 52.093secs, so I mean you can’t get closer than that can you. Even better we are slightly up the road from others, so it does look good.’
With the bumper grid all so close, the opening rounds of the 2012 season are set to be action-a-plenty at the Kent circuit.
The AirAsia Renault UK Clio Cup will be in action twice during the Brands hatchweekend, with the opening 20 lap encounter due to start this afternoon at 16.45 on Saturday, with the second race on Sunday afternoon at 15.00, 1st 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.
In addition, the Sunday race will be available to view online through the Renault Sport website following the weekend’s action.
Qualifying – Round 1 – Classification
1. Josh FILES Team Pyro 52.091
2. Paul RIVETT PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering 52.128
3. Jack GOFF Team Pyro 52.242
4. Adam BONHAM Team Pyro 52.243
5. James COLBURN Westbourne Motorsport 52.307
6. Aaron WILLIAMSON Finesse Motorsport Ltd 52.388
7. Luke WRIGHT Scuderia Vittoria 52.408
8. Jake GIDDINGS Finesse Motorsport Ltd 52.428
9. Kim ANDERSSON Team Pyro 52.468
10. Mike BUSHELL Mike Bushell 52.475
11. Josh COOK 20Ten Racing 52.490
12. James DIXON Scuderia Vittoria 52.511
13. Ant WHORTON-EALES Westbourne Motorsport 52.539
14. Simon BELCHER Handy Motorsport with Pyro 52.659
15. Nic HAMILTON Total Control Racing 52.735
16. Adam GOULD Stancombe Vehicle Engineering 52.747
17. William DAVISON Westbourne Motorsport 52.818
18. Rob SMITH Total Control Racing 52.946
19. Vic COVEY Scuderia Vittoria 52.966
20. Finlay CROCKER Scuderia Vittoria 53.094
21. Darren WILSON 20Ten Racing 53.221
22. Mark TILBURY Silver Fox Racing 53.543
23. Tautvydas BARSTYS Juta Racing 54.129
24. Ronnie KLOS Scuderia Vittoria 54.299
25. Ignas GELZINIS Juta Racing 54.745