Points leader Ash Hand continued his strong run of form by setting a new qualifying record to grab pole position for this afternoon’s Renault UK Clio Cup race at Rockingham, although it was Team Pyro team-mate Ashley Sutton who took the top spot on the grid for Sunday’s round at the Northamptonshire circuit.
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Hand sped to his eighth pole of the season during this morning’s qualifying session with a best time of one minute 29.259 seconds – well beneath British Touring Car star Jack Goff’s previous record of 1m29.904s from 2012 when he became the Clio Cup Champion.

Sutton was 0.198s behind in second ahead of WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett and Maximum Motorsport’s Ant Whorton-Eales in third and fourth. Just 0.019s covered these three.

It means the top four in the championship will start the first of this weekend’s two Clio Cup races at Rockingham – this afternoon at 3.00pm – all in close proximity on the grid. They will go into the race with Hand on 331 points, Whorton-Eales on 314, Sutton on 299 and Rivett on 273 with 32 being awarded to the winner…

However based on the best second fastest times set by drivers during qualifying it will be Sutton and Whorton-Eales who start Sunday’s race from the front row of the grid with Hand and Rivett lining up behind in third and fourth.

Hand commented: “I’m happy with pole for today’s race, but frustrated to be only third for tomorrow’s race – I was on a better lap later in the session only to get baulked into a corner by a slower car. I think both races are going to be very close with the slipstream effect around here.”

Sutton said: “I was happy with my first run but on the second set of tyres the balance of the car wasn’t quite there. But overall… two front row starting positions. I’m satisfied with that.”

Whorton-Eales added: “We’re in the ballpark but I’m surprised Hand was able to find that sort of time. Knockhill wasn’t the best for us so it’s nice to be back on the pace here and I think we’re looking at having two much more competitive races.”

Meanwhile the two drivers making their Clio Cup debuts at Rockingham – Luke Kidsley with JamSport and 16-year-old Josh Price with Pyro – both impressed during qualifying. Kidsley put himself sixth and seventh on the two grids respectively, Price ninth and 11th.

20Ten Racing’s Peter Felix headed the runners in the Masters Cup class for older drivers on both grids with 11th and 12th places on them respectively.

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