VitalRacing with Team Pyro’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) is the 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup champion, the first of the fourth generation Renault Clio era, after a dramatic final round of the season at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 12th October.
Finishing in third place, his ninth podium of the year, and also taking two bonus points with the new lap record for the Kent venue’s GP layout, Bushell certainly ended the campaign on a high but the destiny of the title had already been sealed on lap three when SV Racing with KX driver Josh Cook (Bath) crashed out at Paddock Hill Bend while trying to take the lead from Paul Rivett (Banstead).
Knowing he had to win the race to stand any realistic chance of usurping Bushell for the coveted title, Cook made a point of adopting an attacking approach from the outset but his late move on the brakes only resulted in his Clio spinning out into the gravel on the outside of the right-hander.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet”, said Bushell, who wins a loaned Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC roadcar courtesy of Renault UK and a Renault 5 GT Turbo supplied by series sponsor Courier Connections in acknowledgment of Renaultsport UK’s 40th anniversary, “At the start of the race my clutch actually went off the line, I just got going and then I stopped from going into [James] Colburn when he spun.
“I got going, I was in eighth, then I got up into sixth and then saw him [Cook] go off! I thought ‘that’s it’, so then I just wanted to be on the podium and be as fast as I could. I’ll go out and celebrate tonight but I’ve got 10 MOTs to do in the morning at work – back to reality tomorrow!”
Rivett, who grabbed the lead at the exit of Paddock Hill on the first lap when Cook and Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) both had a spin while disputing first place, went on to control the race despite heavy pressure from Alex Morgan (Reading).
Marking Rivett’s first outright win of the season, and the maiden Renault UK Clio Cup success for the WDE Motorsport squad, the result also helped the championship stalwart secure the Masters Cup class title.
“We’ve been close to winning a few races this year”, said Rivett, “If I hadn’t won then it would have been my first season ever where I hadn’t won at least one race. It’s been a great year, the team has done a fantastic job – massive thank you to Wayne Eason and to all of our sponsors. Massive congratulations to Mike [Bushell] on winning the championship too, he’s done a fantastic job.”
Second place for Morgan capped off a superb weekend for the SV Racing with KX driver with a deserved podium double while the Graduate Cup class win, fourth position overall, for Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) enabled the 20Ten Racing driver to seal the Graduate championship.
“I like Brands Hatch, I’ve not had much experience on the GP circuit, but after the difficulties mid-season I really wanted two podiums for the team and for the [KX] Akademy”, said Morgan, “To come away with two podiums at the end of the season sets me up for next year.”
Graduate Champion Stilp said: “I can’t believe it to be honest, it’s been a big shock this year. I didn’t really expect to finish third in the championship overall either, we’ve tried our hardest though and the team has worked very, very hard. It’s just been a great year, everyone is over the moon.”
Cook began the race from pole with Colburn alongside and after making an even start they headed into Paddock Hill Bend side-by-side. With neither driver giving an inch, the seemingly inevitable spins followed and Rivett – who made a superb getaway from seventh – picked his way through to lead.
Notably, Bushell had to stand on the brakes to avoid T-boning Colburn’s stricken Clio and the Pyro driver just managed to do so, although he did slip to eighth place from third. While Colburn’s race ended there, Cook somehow managed to recover in second position with Morgan third, JamSport’s Dan Holland (Dagenham) emerging in fourth, up from 10th on the grid, and Stilp fifth.
Following Cook’s ill-fated attempt to pass Rivett at the beginning of the third tour, the Safety Car was deployed to enable the title contender’s car to be moved from a place of danger. Rivett made a good job of the re-start a lap later but Morgan, up into second with Cook’s demise, pressured.
Running close in the wheeltracks of the leader, Morgan searched for a way past but lost ground on lap seven after running wide at Hawthorn. Still managing to retain second place, the excursion did give Rivett breathing space and he eventually took his long-awaited win by almost two seconds.
Bushell, even though knowing he had secured the championship after seeing Cook’s Renault Clio in the gravel, continued to race hard and after taking fourth place from Stilp on lap six at Paddock he then grabbed third from Holland at the start of lap seven.
Holland, impressing once again on only his second weekend in the championship, managed to see off the close attentions of Stilp to take a best-yet finish of fourth position just 1.5 seconds adrift of the overall podium. Charlie Ladell (Felixstowe) rounded out the top six on a fantastic day for WDE.
Seventh place went to the recovering Ash Hand (Nuneaton), a couple of spins early on dropping him to the tail. He headed home the second JamSport car of Paul Knapp (Farningham), posting his best finish in eighth, with series rookie Paul Donkin (Bishop Auckland) ninth for SV Racing and fellow newcomer Gary Jenner (Hartley) rounding out the top 10 for Westbourne.
“For the record, I’d probably go for that move again”, reflected Cook, “You can’t dwell on what happened, we definitely had the pace and I needed to win – it was a do or die, I had to go for it and had to get it done early on before the tyres started to go off. We’ve had six wins, more than anybody else, and it is still great to come home in P2. Mike [Bushell] is definitely a worthy champion.”
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup standings (minus drop scores):
CHAMPION: Mike Bushell, 415pts; 2nd Josh Cook, 372pts; 3rd Jordan Stilp, 351pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (minus drop scores):
CHAMPION: Jordan Stilp, 419pts; 2nd Josh Cook, 408pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 408pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (minus drop scores):
CHAMPION: Paul Rivett, 481pts; 2nd Lee Pattison, 448pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 318pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings:
CHAMPIONS: SV Racing with KX, 916pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 679pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 574pts