Whorton-Eales joined the BTCC’s elite during the championship’s annual big mid-season Dunlop tyre test at Snetterton. Among them currently are many drivers to have previously raced in the UK Clio Cup – including 2015 Champion Ashley Sutton.
Whorton-Eales drove Team HARD’s Toyota Avensis (as raced by Jake Hill in the BTCC) – his UK Clio Cup team JamSport has ties with Team HARD.
Team HARD boss Tony Gilham commented: “Ant did fantastically well – he was very professional, his feedback was excellent and he was on the pace within just a handful of laps which is remarkable.
“We are certain he was on course to end the day well inside the top ten on times but he got blocked on his new tyre run by one of the current top BTCC names! He also showed very good pace when we put him on a simulated race run. A great job…”
Dunlop, exclusive tyre supplier to both the BTCC and UK Clio Cup, also had positive words for Whorton-Eales’s performance.
Its UK Motorsport Manager Mickey Butler added: “Ant did a very good job and, as ever, it’s always very nice for Dunlop to see one of the top young drivers coming from one of the categories we are involved taking advantage of an opportunity like this and showing what they can do. We wouldn’t expect anything less from one of the top drivers in the UK Clio Cup.”
Whorton-Eales admitted there was a big grin on his face as he left the pit lane for the first time at the wheel of the 300bhp tourer but it was soon down to serious business.
He said: “I didn’t really have any problem with the extra power – the BTCC car doesn’t struggle to put it down. The biggest things were the brakes and also the cornering grip – the car was on rails.
“But I’d definitely say that is where the driving technique in the UK Clio Cup car helped. I was able to cross that driving style over and I was getting on the power nice and early and it showed in my corner exit speeds.
“It was a great experience but I went into it with no great expectations and just wanted to be inside the top 20. Knowing from the data and possibly a few other things that aren’t necessarily obvious to the outside world that the top ten was do-able feels very satisfying and I’d like to thank JamSport and Team HARD who were great to work with very much for the opportunity.”