Ash Hand showed no sign of title nerves as he set the pace in the Renault UK Clio Cup’s second test session around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit with the fastest time of the day.
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After a red flag delay, Team Pyro’s Hand set a best lap of one minute 39.366 seconds to move to the top of the timesheets ahead of the two drivers aiming to beat him to the drivers’ crown this weekend, his BMR Restart-backed team-mate Ashley Sutton and Maximum Motorsport’s Ant Whorton-Eales. Both had been ahead of Hand prior to the red flag, but were unable to respond so wound up second and third fastest.

Hand's time was around two tenths of a second faster than the current race lap record. The 21-year-old, a protege of triple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx, said: "I'm happy with that – it's just where I wanted to be going into tomorrow. I think I was the only one of us inside the top three not going beyond track limits. It's a bit of a statement of intent..."

Fourth was WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett as every driver – bar 20Ten Racing’s Ben Palmer – improved on their times from the earlier session held this morning. Palmer was unable to improve because of a heavy off at Paddock Hill Bend which caused the red flag delay mentioned above…

Fifth was WDE’s Dan Holland and a mightily impressive sixth Paul Streather as he warmed up for his UK Clio Cup debut with the returning Finesse Motorsport squad. Pyro’s Josh Price, the last man to get within a second of the fastest time, was seventh.

Just 0.055s split closely-matched JamSport Racing pair Tom Grundy and Luke Kidsley in eighth and ninth while Jon Maybin and Sam Watkins were the highest-placed of the Team Cooksport and 20Ten drivers in tenth and 13th.

Those to make the most notable gains when compared to their session one times were Alex Sedgwick (Cooksport) and Tom Butler (20Ten) who, 12th and 17th, found chunks of 1.6s and 1.4s respectively. Just over a second covered eighth-placed Grundy to George Jackson (Cooksport) in 18th showing just how close Saturday’s qualifying session and opening race of the weekend could be…

CLICK HERE for full session times.

Saturday’s qualifying session takes place at 10.55am ahead of the first of two 12 lap races this weekend, at 3.00pm. If Hand, who currently leads the points table, wins Saturday's race he will provisionally be the new UK Clio Cup Champion, regardless of what happens in Sunday's closing round of 2015...