After a sensational season spanning more than six months, the 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup reaches its excitement-filled conclusion at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit next weekend, 11th/12th October, where an intense three-way battle is set to determine the new champion.
Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells), Josh Cook (Bath) and Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) are the main contenders for title glory heading into rounds 17 and 18 and it’s VitalRacing with Team Pyro driver Bushell who holds the advantage, a 28 point lead with the double ‘drop score’ ruling applied.
In theory, James Colburn (Worthing) and Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) can still win the coveted title but it would take some seriously bizarre circumstances – such as a double exclusion for Bushell – and a similarly disastrous weekend for Cook and Stilp to enable that scenario to unfold.
More realistically, a three-horse race is in prospect this weekend and after a run of three wins from the last four races the championship pendulum has certainly swung in Bushell’s favour ahead of the series finale at his ‘home’ track.
Under the ‘drop score’ ruling, where each competitor has to subtract their lowest two finishes of the season before calculating their final net points total, erstwhile championship leader Cook is the closest challenger to Bushell.
Having been in control of the title race for the bulk of the season, the SV Racing with KX driver now has to try and claw back the deficit after two very difficult weekends at Knockhill in Scotland and Rockingham in Northamptonshire. As a five-time race winner, though, Cook clearly has what it takes to try and turn things around on the final weekend.
Should Bushell outscore Cook by more than six points in the first race next Saturday, the title would be his with a round to spare but there’s a very strong possibility the fight will go down to a dramatic final day decider in front of the live ITV4 cameras on the Sunday.
On overall scores, Stilp has a two point lead over Cook but the 20Ten Racing driver is the hardest hit of the top three contenders on drop scores as he slips 19 points behind his SV Racing rival when they are taken into consideration. With three victories up to now, though, it’d be unwise to bet against a suitably impressive weekend from the second year Clio Cup racer.
There are also a whole host of drivers waiting in the wings striving to stand atop the Brands Hatch podium, including Westbourne Motorsport’s Colburn and SV Racing with KX driver Alex Morgan (Reading) – both race winners already this season.
Additionally, the likes of Whorton-Eales, WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Banstead), Team Pyro’s Lee Pattison (Scholes) and ever-improving SV Racing with KX driver Ash Hand (Nuneaton) are all hungry to try and win a race before the season is out.
As well as the overall series title, the Graduate Cup and Masters Cup class battles are also yet to be decided with Pattison and Rivett separated by a mere three points on ‘drop scores’ in the latter. In the Graduate Cup, Cook leads the way on drops by nine points from Stilp with Whorton-Eales only five points further adrift.
Officially timed testing for the final event of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup season will take place next Friday, 10th October, with qualifying beginning at 11.20 on Saturday, 11th October, and the first race of the weekend following at 16.15. On Sunday, 12th October, round 18 will start at 13.30 and will be screened live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD with 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.
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup standings (after Rd16 – inc. drop scores):
1st Mike Bushell, 366pts; 2nd Josh Cook, 338pts; 3rd Jordan Stilp, 319pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd16 – inc. drop scores):
1st Josh Cook, 376pts; 2nd Jordan Stilp, 367pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 362pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd16 – inc. drop scores):
1st Lee Pattison, 420pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 417pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 318pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd16):
CHAMPIONS: SV Racing with KX, 812pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 632pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 541pts