Alex Morgan (Reading) made a welcome, and long overdue, return to the top of the timesheets at Knockhill Circuit in Scotland this afternoon, Friday, 22nd August, during official Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup testing ahead of rounds 13 and 14 of the season.
In an incredibly tight second session, which took place in changeable conditions, the SV Racing with KX driver shaded the morning best of team-mate Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) by a mere five hundredths of a second to end the day quickest with a time of 57.122 seconds (79.84mph).
Finding a full half second between practice sessions, double Brands Hatch race winner Morgan is now relishing the prospect of mounting a strong Knockhill challenge after some torrid misfortune during the mid-part of the campaign which spoiled his championship hopes.
“This has been a long time coming, it’s been a tough season since we won at the start of the year at Brands so it’s brilliant to be P1”, said an elated Morgan, “This just shows when everything comes together, when I’m performing and the car’s performing, we’re as quick as anyone. I managed to get a clean run this afternoon and I got it on my own, no tow, which was really important.
“All in all, there’s a bit more time to come but it’s all looking good for the weekend and hopefully we can take this forward into qualifying and the two races. We’ll go through the data, see where we can make some improvements and then get an early night before a big day tomorrow.”
Whorton-Eales, who was roughly 0.1 seconds slower in the afternoon, ended the day second overall and the fastest of the Graduate Cup runners thanks to his earlier best of 57.173 seconds (79.77mph) while VitalRacing with Team Pyro’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) vaulted into the top three in session two from sixth fastest in the morning – his best a time of 57.226 seconds (79.70mph).
Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) concluded the day fourth fastest for 20Ten Racing, within 0.2 seconds of Morgan’s pace, with SV Racing’s Ash Hand (Nuneaton) fifth and Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) rounding out the quickest six. Colburn, who is the Knockhill lap record holder in the previous third generation Clio, didn’t have a straight-forward day after gear selection problems limited his running.
Championship leader Josh Cook (Bath) ended the day seventh fastest in his SV Racing with KX car, ahead of Masters Cup leader Lee Pattison (Scholes) whose morning best of 57.509 seconds (79.31mph) – which placed him second fastest at that point – ultimately meant eighth for the day.
Renault UK Clio Cup returnee Finlay Crocker (Bathgate) rounded out testing with the 12th fastest time, while championship debutant Jamie Clarke (Formby) was 14th quickest on his first outing in the latest turbo-charged fourth generation Clio.
Qualifying will begin the day’s action tomorrow, Saturday, 23rd August, at 09.00 with round 13 set to get underway at 15.50. On Sunday, 24th August, round 14 is scheduled to take place at 12.30 and will be screened live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, with live streaming at www.itv.com/btcc
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 Rd12):
1st Josh Cook, 301pts; 2nd James Colburn, 267pts; 3rd Mike Bushell, 253pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd12):
1st Josh Cook, 317pts; 2nd James Colburn, 311pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 288pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd12):
1st Lee Pattison, 360pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 293pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 253pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd12):
1st SV Racing with KX, 631pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 465pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 427pts