On-form Hand tops testing ahead of Oulton Park race weekend

Fresh from his two wins at Thruxton, Ash Hand was top of the timesheets again in Renault UK Clio Cup testing at Oulton Park ahead of the Cheshire circuit’s two rounds this weekend.
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Pyro ace Hand set a best lap time of 1m34.887s to pip team-mate Ashley Sutton and the man they are both chasing for the championship lead, SV Racing’s championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales as less than a second covered the top ten fastest drivers.

Sutton, feeling the draining effects of flu-like symptoms, had set the pace in the earlier morning session but was one of only three drivers who failed to improve in the afternoon’s second session when Hand’s time moved him ahead.

“I’m happy with that – I was P2 in the first session but then found more again. It’s a good way to start the weekend and it’s obviously where I want to be when we get down to qualifying tomorrow,” commented Hand whose second best time would have also put him fastest overall.

A visibly drained Sutton said: “That second session just didn’t go right for me – I had two moments in a row at the Old Hall corner on my new tyre run. It’s very hot in the cars for all the drivers but I am really feeling it – I don’t know what I’ve got but I need an early night.”

Whorton-Eales, who set a string of consistently fast times towards the end of the second session, explained: “I wish we’d got to where we are now with the car in the earlier session. But we’ve hit the sweet spot finally so I’m feeling a lot better going into tomorrow.”

WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett, SVR’s Jack Mitchell and Pyro’s Brett Smith – back after missing Thruxton’s races and fastest of anyone in the first sector – completed the top six.

Next up were 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp and Team Cooksport trio Rory Collingbourne, Charles Ladell and Jon Maybin while Dan Holland was JamSport’s highest-placed driver in 11th. He was fortunate only to suffer damaged tracking to his car when he clipped a tyre stack marker that had been nudged onto the racing line by another driver entering the Clay Hill section of track…

Tomorrow’s half hour qualifying session, that will decide Oulton’s two Clio Cup starting grids, will take place at 12.55pm ahead of the weekend’s opening race later in the afternoon, at 4.00pm. Race two is on Sunday at 1.00pm.

Click here for the full times and sector breakdowns from today’s two practice sessions.