Colburn moves into second in championship after Oulton win

Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) produced an excellent lights-to-flag drive at Oulton Park International Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 8th June, to secure his second victory of the year in round eight and move into the runner-up spot in the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup title race.

Making a terrific getaway from the outside of the front row to move ahead of pole-starter Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) on the run into Old Hall, Colburn was never realistically threatened despite serious pressure from SV Racing with KX team-mates Whorton-Eales and Josh Cook (Bath).

Running nose-to-tail for a large part of the 10 lap contest, the lead trio pulled well clear of the chasing pack during the first half of the race but as Whorton-Eales and Cook came under attack later on it enabled Colburn to get some breathing space and win by 1.2 seconds – also earning him the Graduate Cup victory.

Having endured a troublesome start to the weekend with a couple of excursions in testing on Friday, victory in the second race of the weekend, added to a third place result in round seven on Saturday, marked the Westbourne driver’s best set of results of the season so far.

“It was really good, I made a great start to get ahead of Ant [Whorton-Eales] into the first corner and then it was line astern from there really”, said the delighted 21-year-old, “It’s so hard round here to overtake, it’s so tight and twisty. All in all I’m very happy, the team has done a fantastic job with the car again – Westbourne Motorsport is really coming on strong now.”

For Whorton-Eales, second place was his best finish of the campaign so far and made-up for the unfortunate mistake which cost him the lead of Saturday’s race and a potential win. Cook piled on the pressure to his team-mate throughout, eager to find a way past to try and challenge Colburn, but Whorton-Eales held firm and didn’t put a wheel wrong – taking the flag 0.3 seconds ahead.

“I didn’t get such a good start today, James [Colburn] got ahead into the first corner, but it’s so tight around here – as long as you hold your line and don’t do anything stupid it’s going to be a case of follow the leader”, said Whorton-Eales, “I could see Josh [Cook] was getting a bit frustrated behind, flashing the headlights and waving his hand quite a bit, but we held strong and got second.”

Cook added: “The car was so, so fast – it was, basically, perfect. I had the pace but I didn’t want to do anything stupid, we obviously need to think of the team points. I did try to find a way past him [Whorton-Eales] but he drove an awesome race and didn’t really make a mistake so I couldn’t find a way past. Anywhere offline was on marbles, so I had to settle and look after the championship.”

While the order among the top three didn’t change, the battle behind the podium fight was incredibly intense with half a dozen drivers in with a chance of finishing in fourth place. Alex Morgan (Reading) piloted the widest possible Clio to keep a gaggle of cars behind during the early running, but on lap four WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Banstead) managed to squeeze through at Cascades.

Opening the door for 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) to also go through on the exit, Morgan was sharply elbowed to sixth before he then became a target for Team Pyro’s advancing Lee Pattison (Scholes).

As Rivett and Stilp pulled clear to close up on the leaders, Morgan again had to look in his mirrors as Pattison sized up a pass and on lap six the Pyro driver made it through. For Rivett, though, his race took a turn for the worse on lap eight when he was served with a five second penalty for exceeding track limits. An excursion at Island Bend a lap later led to an eventual finish of 12th place.

Stilp, therefore, moved up into fourth on the road as well as the corrected timing screens – his best result of the season – and ended the race within just 0.3 seconds of championship leader Cook with Masters Cup class winner Pattison only another 0.2 seconds adrift in fifth.

Morgan managed to cling on to sixth, five seconds adrift of the group ahead, with VitalRacing with Team Pyro’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) taking a hard-earned seventh place after gear selection issues on the opening lap dropped him down to the tail of the field.

Confirming his pace, Bushell gained the two bonus points for fastest lap. His quickest time of 1m53.342 seconds (85.50mph), which he set on the fifth tour, is also the International Circuit lap record for the Renault UK Clio Cup.

Charlie Ladell (Felixstowe), in only his second ever race in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship support category, took a fine eighth place hot on Bushell’s heels with Westbourne’s Devon Modell (Maidstone) ninth and Mark Fish Motorsport’s Mark Howard (Westborough) rounding out the top 10.

There are just three weeks to wait until rounds nine and 10 of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup take place at Croft Circuit in North Yorkshire, over the weekend 28th/29th June.

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 (after Rd8):
1st Josh Cook, 215pts; 2nd James Colburn, 183pts; 3rd Mike Bushell, 175pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd8):
1st Josh Cook, 231pts; 2nd James Colburn, 212pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 191pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd8):
1st Lee Pattison, 240pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 206pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 147pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd8):
1st SV Racing with KX, 428pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 321pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 295pts