Pole position qualifier Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) converted the first of his two grid-topping starting slots at Croft this weekend into a superb maiden Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup victory during round nine of the season this afternoon, Sunday, 29th June.
Leading from lights-to-flag, after making an excellent getaway, the 20Ten Racing driver was never threatened over the course of the 12 laps and also posted the fastest lap of the encounter with a time of 1m33.518 seconds (81.80mph). As well as the outright win, of course, Stilp also bagged his first Graduate Cup class success.
“It was a very hard race, we pulled away and got a gap at first from everybody else but I had a big moment at the complex”, explained Stilp, “I don’t think I got enough heat into the rear-right tyre, as I went in there I was completely sideways – I thought it was over at that point!
“Last year we didn’t have very good luck at Croft in the races, even though we were quick in qualifying, so to come back and be so strong this year is just great. It’s unbelievable really and I’m glad we’ve got the first win out of the way. Huge thank you to the guys at 20Ten, it’s fantastic.”
While Stilp was able to thread his way through the notorious first corner, Clervaux, safely ahead of a fast-starting Ash Hand (Nuneaton), further behind an unfortunate tangle at the right-hander led to multi-car contact with Paul Rivett (Banstead) and James Colburn (Worthing) coming off worse.
Both drivers did manage to rejoin, Colburn a long way down on the rest of the pack, although it was Rivett’s car which bore the brunt of the damage. Westbourne Motorsport’s Colburn managed to recover into the top 10, while Rivett’s WDE car came home in 12th position behind Mark Howard (Westborough) – the latter having switched teams to 20Ten Racing prior to the weekend.
Stilp stamped his authority at the front on the opening lap to build a strong advantage over Hand, but after running wide into the complex towards the end of the first tour his lead was reduced. Able to stay off the grass and within the confines of the track, he didn’t put a wheel wrong thereafter on his way to a 1.2 second success.
Hand, who qualified his SV Racing with KX car third fastest after no real testing due to car problems, ran in second throughout after getting the jump on championship leader and team-mate Josh Cook (Bath) at the start. Seeing off the third SV Racing car of Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), Hand lapped very consistently and was able to keep in touch with Stilp to make a deserved return to the podium.
“We definitely had the pace to take the win”, said Hand, “For the first two or three laps I backed off on the tyres to make sure they lasted, so then at the end we had a lot of pace. I think we had a bit more in the bag than we showed in the end, but I think that’s good for the second race. Hopefully we can put the hammer down there and try and get the win.”
Whorton-Eales, who emerged in third out of the Clervaux dust having started down in eighth place, came under increasing pressure from Cook but, in a repeat of their immensely close racing at Oulton Park during the previous round, the former was able to keep his more experienced team-mate at bay to chalk-up his third podium of 2014.
With Cook filling his mirrors lap after lap, Whorton-Eales did manage to edge away over the last couple of laps to the tune of just over two seconds. Fifth place went to Alex Morgan (Reading) in the fourth SV Racing car, the Welshman producing a similarly impressive opening lap to Whorton-Eales having started in 10th position. Morgan piled on the pressure to Cook at the end, but to no avail.
“We had a fantastic getaway off the line, into Turn One it was typical Croft chaos – there were cars everywhere and we just had to pick our way through”, commented Whorton-Eales, “Then it was just a case of trying to hold Josh [Cook] off, he’s so quick around here. Through the slow stuff I backed him up a bit to try and give Alex [Morgan] a chance to attack him – that gave me a bit of a gap.”
Westbourne’s Devon Modell (Maidstone) took sixth across the line, having got ahead of VitalRacing with Team Pyro’s Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) at the hairpin on the last lap. In the Masters Cup class, victory went the way of Pyro’s Lee Pattison (Scholes) in eighth overall.
Race two of the weekend, round 10, will take place at around 16.20 this afternoon, Sunday, 29th June, with live coverage on ITV4 and ITV4 HD as well as 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 Rd9):
1st Josh Cook, 237pts; 2nd James Colburn, 194pts; 3rd Mike Bushell, 191pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd9):
1st Josh Cook, 253pts; 2nd James Colburn, 230pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 216pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd9):
1st Lee Pattison, 272pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 231pts; 3rd Mark Howard, 175pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd9):
1st SV Racing with KX, 481pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 351pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 324pts