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Bushell predicts new qualifying, race lap records at Croft after topping Friday test

Championship leader Mike Bushell set the pace in Renault UK Clio Cup testing at Croft on Friday while, on his debut, Sam Randon performed strongly and there was a marked improvement in form by Lucas Orrock.
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Bushell was fastest of all in both sessions, his lap of one minute, 31.737 seconds – set in the cooler conditions of this morning – turning out to be his best of all. However he got close to this during the afternoon with another stunning time of 1m31.800s.

Going into the weekend the UK Clio Cup’s qualifying and race lap records around Croft currently stand at 1m31.452s (Dave Newsham, 2010) and 1m31.509s (Jonathan Adam from 2004)! However, as has happened at Brands Hatch, Donington Park and Thruxton, many predict these will tumble this weekend with the championship’s move in 2017 to a faster, more durable Michelin tyre…

And declared Team Pyro ace Bushell: “If in qualifying tomorrow the conditions are similar to this morning then I predict we’ll be into the 1m30s bracket, easy. I can see the race lap record going too… it is abrasive around here but the tyre has already shown how well it stands up.

“We’ve got into the groove quickly today and to be more than a quarter of a second up the road from anyone else is good work.”

Closest to Bushell when times from the two sessions were combined were his team-mate Jack McCarthy and Westbourne Motorsport’s James Dorlin. Like Bushell both set their personal bests – 1m32.090s and 1m32.143s respectively – in the morning.

Home favourite Max Coates was fourth outright, courtesy of the 1m32.143s lap that put him second to Bushell in the afternoon’s session.

And then in a shock fifth, thanks to his morning’s best of 1m32.176s, was Randon. The former BARC Clio Cup Series front-runner may well have gone even quicker in the afternoon had he not inflicted mild front-end damage to his car with an off in the Complex.

DRM’s Daniel Rowbottom completed the top six ahead of Orrock, revelling in his first outing with Pyro to be seventh overall. Meanwhile Dan Zelos, ninth fastest, was WDE’s highest-placed driver with team-mates Paul Rivett and Lee Pattison – currently third and second in the standings – curiously back in 11th and 13th positions.

Similarly James Colburn, a winner last time out at Oulton Park, was further behind than expected – an intermittent misfire keeping his PP Motorsport/Westbourne car back in 14th.

There were a number of red flags during the two sessions, although none were with any major consequence – in the morning Shayne Deegan damaged the front of his SDR car against a tyre stack corner marker and Graham Field’s JamSport machine stopped with a mechanical glitch; as well as Randon’s excursion, there were then offs (both at Clervaux) in the afternoon for McCarthy and Pyro team-mate Kyle Hornby.

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