Bushell left it until late afternoon to set what ultimately stood as the fastest time of the day with a best lap of one minute 29.795 seconds. He, WDE’s Paul Rivett (1m29.808s), Finesse’s Jake Giddings (1m29.855s) and Pyro’s Josh Price (1m29.901s) were all beneath the existing qualifying lap record set by current British Touring Car ace Jack Goff in 2012.
Cooksport’s Lee Pattison was also bang on the pace, fifth fastest outright with a best lap of 1m30.096s as BMR-Pyro’s Senna Proctor and Ecomotive’s Daniel Rowbottom – both new to the UK Clio Cup this year – followed close behind.
In total, less than a second covered the 14 fastest drivers on the day.
Bushell commented: “I’m happy, of course, but it means nothing. Some people aren’t showing their hand until qualifying at Brands Hatch next week. And to be honest I only really got it together after I’d looked at Josh price’s data – I’d been losing out to him in a few areas but when I could see what he was doing I was able to find that bit extra.”
Three-time Champion Rivett said: “The whole team has a great day with my team-mates Charlie Ladell, Rory Green and Paul Plant all doing really good jobs too – in fact Rory has excelled himself. Even better, we’ve not run new rubber today whereas others have, plus it’s my first time in the car this year. It’s definitely game on for Brands Hatch.”
Finesse’s performance was also highly impressive: not only was ex-UK Clio Cup racer and recent British GT title-winner Giddings in third, but the squad’s confirmed driver to date Paul Streather was a strong eighth overall. It was Streather, in a Finesse car, who almost caused such an upset as he fought for the win on his debut in last year’s UK Clio Cup season finale…
Team Principal Neil Giddings enthused: “We’ve had no testing as such, only a shakedown, so to turn up like this and have Jake and Paul show so well is very pleasing.
“Of course we have Paul signed already and I’d love Jake to do it too – he’s definitely got unfinished business in the UK Clio Cup as he always had the pace but not necessarily the luck that you need. To come in and go ‘bang’ like he has is very impressive… I can see him and Paul both fighting for the top spots and being a very strong double-act to give the others something to worry about.”
Leading times, Official Testing, Renault UK Clio Cup, Rockingham 23 March 2016
1. Mike Bushell (Team Pyro), 1m29.795s
2. Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport, 1m29.808s
3. Jake Giddings (Finesse Motorsport), 1m29.855s
4. Josh Price (Team Pyro), 1m29.901s
5. Lee Pattison (Team Cooksport), 1m30.096s
6. Senna Proctor (Team BMR with Pyro), 1m30.319s
7. Daniel Rowbottom (Team Ecomotive with DMR), 1m30.352s
8. Paul Streather (Finesse Motorsport), 1m30.387s
9. Charles Ladell (WDE Motorsport), 1m30.638s
10. Rory Green (WDE Motorsport), 1m30.611s
11. Ant Whorton-Eales (JamSport-AWE, 1m30.634s
12. Rory Collingbourne (Team Cooksport), 1m30.667s
13. Dan Zelos (Ciceley Motorsport), 1m30.678s
14. Anton Spires (PP Motorsport), 1m30.690s
15. Paul Plant (Vanquish-WDE), 1m30.912s
CLICK HERE for complete times and the order from all day’s sessions.