Team-mates Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) and Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) locked out the top two positions during officially timed Renault UK Clio Cup testing at Croft today, Friday, 21st June, to get the second half of the season off to a fantastic start for the KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria squad.
On a truly outstanding day for the Sunbury-on-Thames team, Hodgetts lapped fastest in both sessions, first heading a KX Racing one, two, three from Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) and Bushell in the morning run and then leading home Bushell by 0.1 seconds in the faster afternoon outing.
“It’s a mega start to the weekend”, said elated team principal Danny Buxton, “Obviously, there aren’t any points for testing but it’s still nice to be quickest in testing – I’m well chuffed. We followed on from this morning in the second session, the lads have done a great job and it’s very good for the KX Akademy.
“When we look at the sectors there’s still time to find, so that’s a nice position to be in when you’ve ended the first day quickest. Let’s hope this rolls on into qualifying, I think we’ve got a really good chance of getting four or five cars into the top eight tomorrow.”
Hodgetts, who arrived at Croft with two race victories under his belt from the previous two events, is certainly one of the form drivers in the Renault UK Clio Cup at the moment and he duly ended this morning’s 40-minute outing with the best time of 1m33.877 seconds (81.49mph).
Whorton-Eales was a mere 0.094 seconds shy of his vastly more experienced team-mate with Bushell, who joined KX Racing just prior to the Oulton Park race meeting two weeks ago, third fastest and only a further 0.073 seconds back.
Yorkshire’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) was fourth quickest in session one for JHR Developments, just 0.1 seconds shy of third on the timesheets but only a fraction ahead of the next fastest Scuderia Vittoria racer Josh Wakefield (Colchester) in an impressive fifth. Team Pyro’s Alex Morgan (Reading), who goes into this weekend’s races second in the championship, rounded out the top six.
Hodgetts was able to improve by 0.154 seconds in the afternoon to post the quickest time of the day, 1m33.723 seconds (81.62mph), placing him 0.149 seconds clear of Bushell’s session two best with the fastest Graduate Cup runner Josh Files (Norwich) taking third on combined times for Pyro.
Whorton-Eales concluded the day fourth quickest, only 0.012 seconds outside Files’ quickest effort but more than 0.2 seconds clear of Finesse Motorsport’s Jake Giddings (Wisbech) who rocketed up the order from 16th fastest in the opening session. Pattison rounded out the day inside the top six, and the best of the Masters Cup contenders, ahead of the equally consistent Wakefield and Morgan.
Championship leader Paul Rivett (Banstead), who has a 22-point cushion going into rounds nine and 10, was 12th fastest on combined times due to running on old tyres. The Names.co.uk/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver also opted to only complete eight laps in the afternoon session.
“We didn’t have any tyres to use today and in the afternoon the ones we were running had nothing left”, explained Rivett, “Besides, I wanted to wash the van and Colin [Stancombe] wanted a cup of tea so we decided to call it a day after a few laps!”
Qualifying for rounds nine and 10 of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup will begin at 10.50 tomorrow, Saturday, 22nd June, with the opening race of the weekend following at 16.15. On Sunday, 23rd June, round 10 will commence at 15.50 and will be screened live on ITV4, in High Definition on ITV4 HD and streamed online at www.itv.com/btcc
Renault UK Clio Cup is sponsored by www.buyoils.co.uk with support from ELF, NGK Spark Plugs, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Driver Standings (after Rd8):
1st Paul Rivett, 207pts; 2nd Alex Morgan, 185pts; 3rd Josh Files, 176pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd8):
1st Team Pyro, 359pts; 2nd Westbourne Motorsport, 272pts; 3rd Scuderia Vittoria, 267pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd8):
1st Josh Files, 213pts; 2nd James Colburn, 203pts; 3rd Jake Giddings, 179pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd8):
1st Simon Belcher, 204pts; 2nd Graham Field, 191pts; 3rd Finlay Crocker, 139pts