Champion Ashley Sutton and runner-up Ash Hand were both given runs in a British Touring Car (the crack Motorbase team’s Ford Focus) courtesy of ace tyre manufacturer Dunlop which supplies both the BTCC and Clio Cup.
Despite horrifically wet conditions for their first time in a BTCC car – which has around 100bhp more than their Clio Cup racers – both took to it like ducks to water at the Snetterton circuit in Norfolk.
Then at the Jerez circuit in Spain, Hand also excelled in his first run in one of Renaultsport’s 550hp R.S 01 machines – as seen in 2015’s European-based Renault Sport Trophy championship.
Hand tested the R.S 01 after a call-up from Spanish team Monlau Competición and lapped closely to times set by former Formula 1 racer Giedo van der Garde… Sutton is scheduled to test an R.S 01 soon as well – among his prizes for winning the UK Clio Cup crown.
Notably half of this year’s BTCC grid – including the majority of the leading names – has included drivers who have honed their craft in Renault’s racing championships in the UK.
Of the touring car test Sutton said: “After a season in the UK Clio Cup, I felt right at home stepping into a BTCC car. There are differences of course – it is a bigger car, there is more power and the braking zones are shorter, although the cornering speeds are very similar to the UK Clio Cup.”
Commenting on his run in the R.S 01, Hand commented: “There was a lot to take in with having to learn both the car and circuit as well as getting used to a new team – and the weather threw an extra complication into the mix!
“That meant there was a fair bit to get my head around in a short space of time, but I absolutely loved the R.S. 01. It’s a mega piece of kit – extremely fast with an incredible power-to-weight ratio and phenomenal carbon brakes.”