Ashley Sutton headed the timesheets in an ultra-close opening Renault UK Clio Cup practice session around Silverstone’s short National circuit in which his young Pyro team-mate Josh Price and also Rangoni Corse pair Michele Puccetti and Ben Davis all starred.
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Sutton was on top of the times immediately in his distinctive BMR Restart-liveried car. Towards the end of the session he was briefly knocked off the top spot by Maximum Motorsport’s Ant Whorton-Eales and then Price before responding on his final lap with a best time of one minute, 05.106 seconds.

Price (pictured left), WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett and Whorton-Eales wound up second, third and fourth fastest, also in the 1m05s bracket as just 0.048s covered the leading four.

Championship leader, Pyro’s Ash Hand, was fifth. The Nuneaton man can provisionally clinch the title in Sunday’s two races at Silverstone if he scores well and his remaining rivals Sutton, Whorton-Eales and Rivett hit problems.

Sutton said: “I don’t think anybody has run new tyres yet so it’ll be interesting what people can manage when they do fit them in session two towards the end of the day. If conditions stay like this tomorrow for qualifying then I can see pole position easily being into the 1m04s – particularly when people start ‘towing’ each other around. The slipstream effect here is massive.”

Sixth and seventh-fastest were Italian Puccetti and Davis, like the Rangoni team making their UK Clio Cup debuts this weekend, with JamSport Racing’s Tom Grundy and WDE’s Charlie Ladell in eighth and ninth. Another newcomer, Team Cooksport’s Alex Sedgwick, also featured strongly to round out the top ten.

Three more drivers making their first Clio Cup appearances at Silverstone, Maximum’s Tom Witts and 20Ten Racing duo Tom Butler and Sam Watkins, were 12th, 13th and 16th and showed competitive pace as all 20 cars – the biggest UK Clio Cup entry in almost two years – circulated.

The returning Dan Holland, now with WDE, did not show on the timing screens as his car’s transponder failed, although he claimed he had set a time in the 1m05s bracket which would have been good enough for fifth. WDE’s Rory Green failed to set a competitive time as his car suffered a mechanical gremlin shortly into the session.