Leading Renault UK Clio Cup team SV Racing – formerly Scuderia Vittoria – is set to field a capacity four car entry in the championship this year, headed by KX Akademy-backed trio Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), Ash Hand (Nuneaton) and 2013 Vice-Champion Alex Morgan (Reading).
While 19-year-old race winner Whorton-Eales remains at the rebranded and relocated Cheshire squad, having retained KX support for a second consecutive season, Morgan and Hand both arrive at SV Racing after being accepted onto the KX Akademy programme for the first time.
Morgan was an absolute revelation last year, his first in the Renault UK Clio Cup and saloon cars in general, and after securing a memorable and richly deserved race victory on the opening weekend he went on to conclude the season as Vice-Champion with a total of five podiums to his credit.
Even more impressive was the fact the Welsh 26-year-old had been away from competitive motor racing for four years, having called time on his single-seater career at the end of the 2008 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 campaign.
Whorton-Eales embarked on his second full season of Renault Clio action in 2013 and although the first half of the year wasn’t filled with a great deal of good fortune, from mid-season onwards he became a consistent front-running threat – culminating in a maiden race victory at Rockingham on the penultimate weekend of the championship. He wrapped-up the season seventh overall.
After making his car racing debut in 2006, Whorton-Eales went on to become SaxMax Champion in 2010 and was then the MINI Challenge ‘Club Class’ Champion the following year. Contesting four Renault UK Clio Cup races at the end of 2011, he claimed two podiums and was runner-up in the Rookie Cup in his first full season in 2012.
Hand developed into the quickest Renault UK Clio Cup rookie by far during his debut campaign last season and went on to end the season ninth overall in the main standings, fifth in the Graduate Cup class behind Whorton-Eales.
Breaking into the outright top six for the first time during round nine at Croft, the 19-year-old then secured his first car racing podium during round 14 at Rockingham. His prior karting career included numerous successes, not least the 2009 MSA Kartmasters British Grand Prix Rotax Max Junior title and the 2010 Formula Kart Stars Junior Max Championship crown.
Team principal Danny Buxton, a former champion of the Renault UK Clio Cup back in 2001, is thrilled to be running the ultra-quick trio of KX drivers in the first season for the new turbo-powered Renault Clio Cup race car and is confident of filling SV Racing’s fourth seat in the very near future.
“It's going to be a huge year for Ant, this is his third year in the Renault UK Clio Cup and he will be one of the championship favourites for sure”, said Buxton, “He is massively naturally talented and I’m sure he will be at the very sharp end all season.
“Alex returned to motorsport after four years out last year and, after a fantastic season, finished second in the championship, so he’s going to be gunning for the title this season – no question. His technical ability and sheer speed are great assets.”
He added: “After a learning year in 2013, ending with some tremendous results, this season will be a real turning point for Ash. His pace in the last few meetings caught everyone by surprise, he is a real contender and can race with the very best – he’s never afraid to overtake and make things happen. I am genuinely thrilled with the trio of drivers we have on board so far, let the fireworks commence!”
Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent will host the first two rounds of the fourth generation Renault UK Clio Cup era on 29th/30th March. Before then, the annual Media Day and official pre-season test will take place at Rockingham in Northamptonshire on Wednesday, 19th March.
Renault UK Clio Cup is supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.