Bushell set his best time in the first of the two sessions. So, too, all 18 of his rivals as the second session, held late afternoon, would be affected by rain…
His time was one minute, 04.274 seconds as, next up, came Paul Rivett, Jack McCarthy and Dan Zelos to make it two Pyro and two WDE drivers apiece in the top four.
MRM’s Brett Lidsey impressed with the fifth fastest time – Silverstone marking only his second outing of 2017 – as Bushell’s closest championship challenger, WDE’s Lee Pattison, rounded out the top six.
The second session proved highly entertaining as drivers battled a damp but drying track on slick tyres. Ciceley’s Jade Edwards and JamSport’s Aaron Thompson initially took turns to head the times until the former caused a red flag stoppage with a spin into the Copse Corner gravel trap.
Conditions improved gradually and the times eventually got below the magic 1m05s mark. Bushell was the first to get there only for his 16-year-old team-mate Bradley Burns – who impressed mightily on his debut last time out at Rockingham – to then move to the top of the timesheets.
Bushell responded to reclaim top spot but on the very last lap of the session both Rivett and Burns improved to bump him down to third.
Bushell goes into Silverstone’s two races this weekend with an 82 point lead at the top of the standings. He can become Champion in tomorrow’s opening race if he ends it 103 points clear. Alternatively he only needs to be 69 ahead after race two on Sunday to be sure of the crown.
Sunday’s encounter meanwhile will mark triple Champion Rivett’s 200th race in the championship…
Leading times, Free Practice, Renault UK Clio Cup, Silverstone (Fri 15 Sept):
1. Mike Bushell (Team Pyro), 1m04.274s
2. Paul Rivett (WDE M’sport), +0.148s
3. Jack McCarthy (Team Pyro), +0.159s
4. Dan Zelos (WDE M’sport), +0.313s
5. Brett Lidsey (MRM Racing), +0.320s
6. Lee Pattison (WDE M’sport), +0.330s
CLICK HERE for full times.