Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Thruxton’s rounds have produced some of the most exciting racing ever witnessed in the Clio Cup. Records have tumbled and there’s even been the closest top three finish of all time.
“It has been fantastic, with close battles throughout the field and scrapping right to the final corner. All of the races have been incredibly close and great to watch with some stunning overtakes,” says Motorsport News and Autosport correspondent Stephen Lickorish.
“There is a buzz about the paddock and even the BTCC boys are taking notice. The rivalry between Ashley Sutton and Ant Whorton-Eales in the opening few races was intriguing and there have been a number of interesting talking points created by having such a strong collection of drivers at the front.”
And enthuses The Checkered Flag’s Simon Paice: “From the last corner, last lap drama at both Brands Hatch and Thruxton to three thrilling races at Donington Park in between, the Clio Cup is producing some of its most high quality, entertaining and unpredictable racing in recent years.”
ITV4’s Richard John Neil says: “It’s such a great showcase for upcoming talent – especially when we get to see them up against the likes of ‘grand master’ Paul Rivett. Superb cars with great organisation and support...”
And adds co-commentator Phil Glew: “The racing has been some of the best I have ever seen in the Clio Cup and even on the BTCC package... I’m thoroughly enjoying watching and commentating on it. I always like to see a good rivalry and we are seeing more than just one this year. It’s such a well-run championship, with great media coverage and more teams in this year. Great effort all round!”
For Lickorish, Paice and Neil it is Ash Hand who has produced the drives of the season so far, although Ashley Sutton edges it for Glew.
SL: “Hand’s win in race two at Donington was very impressive. He seized the advantage mid-race and then pulled away comfortably – something no leader had managed the whole weekend. To break the tow of a cluster of top drivers behind was brilliant.”
SP: “His race two win at Donington for me as well. He never looked back as he pulled clear of the pack by nearly six seconds in under seven laps to take victory with by far the largest winning margin of the season so far.”
RJN: “Two poles, two wins and two fastest laps for Hand at Thruxton – the complete package.”
PG: “Ant Whorton-Eales always puts on a good show but Sutton’s debut Clio Cup race at Brands when he defended so well and then regained the lead to stay in front up until last corner was something I won’t forget.”
While Whorton-Eales, Sutton and Hand have shared the victories at least another half dozen drivers have shown themselves to be top step potential in 2015 – something that is not lost on our experts. Here’s what they said when asked which emerging talents would go on to shine most brightly as the season progressed.
SL: “Dan Holland showed signs of promise at Thruxton. The JamSport man beat some very quick drivers in qualifying in Hampshire with his spot-on tactics of following the Pyro cars to get a slipstream. Yes, contact at the first corner forced him out but the clever thinking bodes well for the future.”
SP: “Charlie Ladell and Dan Holland are both contenders for race wins and podium finishes as the season unfolds. Ladell has shown tremendous race craft, gaining more places from his grid starts (29) than anyone else, while Holland has highlighted his potential with a pair of third place grid starts from qualifying at Thruxton, but has seen luck go against him in the races so far.”
PG: “I don’t believe we’ve seen the best of Jack Mitchell yet... He’s definitely one to watch.”
RJN: “OK, Phil has gone for ‘Jack the lad’. I say keep your peelers on Dan Holland and the emerging JamSport boys...”