Pre-event practice for the opening two rounds of the 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup showed the arrival of the new fourth generation car has consolidated the competitiveness of the coveted championship – SV Racing team-mates Josh Cook (Bath) and Alex Morgan (Reading) ending today’s testing at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit split by a mere 0.040 seconds at the head of the times.
The KX Akademy duo, both of whom begin the year as serious contenders for the title, were very evenly matched in the end although it was last year’s Vice-Champion Morgan who led the way in the morning with a time of 52.614 seconds (82.65mph).
Cook, who was third in session one behind Team Pyro’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells), then hit the top of the timesheets during the afternoon to round-out the day with the quickest lap of all, 52.550 seconds (82.75 mph). The 22-year-old also led the way in the Graduate Cup class.
“Even towards the end of the last session we were still making changes to the car for tomorrow, being fastest today doesn’t mean anything really – it’s been all about concentrating on how the car feels for qualifying and the races”, said Cook, “It’s been a good day, there’s still some work to do, but the base set-up SV had on the car was really, really good.
“The professionalism of the team is very confidence inspiring, it’s all started well but there’s still a lot of work to do. We need to look at all of the data and video to see where we can improve, there’s still more time to find and we would have been faster today if I’d put my best sectors together.”
So close were the lead competitors today at the 1.2-mile Kent track, just 0.2 seconds separated the top six drivers on combined times. Bushell ended the day third ahead of top Masters Cup runner Lee Pattison (Scholes) for JHR Developments, while Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) was fifth fractionally ahead of Pyro’s Rob Smith (Telford).
Three-time former champion Paul Rivett (Banstead) was seventh quickest overall for newcomer Clio Cup entrant WDE Motorsport, second in the Masters class, while SV Racing’s Ash Hand (Nuneaton) rounded out the top eight, within only 0.5 seconds of Cook’s best and just 0.002 seconds faster than fellow KX racer Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield).
The first qualifying session of the new Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup era will take place at 11.20 tomorrow, Saturday, 29th March, with the opening race of the 2014 season following at 16.25. On Sunday, 30th March, round two will get underway at 15.30 and will be screened live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD with the addition of online streaming at www.itv.com/btcc
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.