Surprises galore in Brands Hatch Indy qualifying as pole positions fall to Rowbottom, Ecomotive & Pattison, Cooksport

Newcomers Daniel Rowbottom (Kidderminster) and Team Ecomotive have dramatically qualified on pole position for their debut race in the Renault UK Clio Cup to be held later today at Brands Hatch while the experienced Lee Pattison (Scholes) will start tomorrow’s second round at the Kent circuit from the front of the grid in his Team Cooksport car.
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The grids for both races were decided by drivers’ fastest and second fastest times set during a 30-minute qualifying session held earlier this afternoon.

Ultimately it was former British karting champion Rowbottom who set the best lap time in 52.173 seconds to earn pole for race one. He was just 0.007s ahead of Finesse Motorsport’s Paul Streather (Hinckley). Pattison was third as less than a second covered first to 21st.

Returning 2014 Champion Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) was fourth as his Team Pyro team-mate Josh Price (Redbourn) and local Ashford-based team WDE Motorsport’s three-time title-winner Paul Rivett (Epsom Downs) completed the top six.

When it came to second fastest times and Sunday’s grid, however, the order changed considerably. It was Pattison who ended up on pole – the first in the UK Clio Cup for the Cooksport squad – ahead of Rivett and another exciting new team-driver combination, Ciceley Motorsport and Dan Zelos (Dereham). Bushell and Streather were next up as PP Motorsport’s Anton Spires (Buckingham) rose to sixth on what is also both team and driver’s debut appearance in the championship.

Notably Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), who had looked to have secured pole for both grids, was later excluded from qualifying after his JamSport Racing car failed a technical check. Last year’s race-winner here will therefore start both races from the back of the 23-car field.

An ecstatic Rowbottom commented: “What a start – we’ve said all along we’re not here to make up the numbers but as a one-car team with no previous data we perhaps didn’t expect this just yet. Inheriting pole is perhaps not the way a driver wants it but we were already assured of a front-row starting position in any case. Experience, though, tells me that qualifying is very different to a race… let’s just see what happens.”

Pattison, a former UK Clio Cup runner-up, said: “It’s a great start for us but there are some very classy drivers out there. I’m under no illusions just how tough it is going to be whether I’m starting third today or from pole tomorrow and Brands Indy has always been something of a bogey track for me.”

Streather, who himself stunned on his debut in last year’s final rounds, added: “It’s important to be towards the front straight out of the box – we’ve not had much pre-season testing and of course had a bit of a reputation to live up to after last October! Fingers crossed everyone stays sane and it’s controlled aggression out there instead of any rash moves.”

Rivett said: “I’ve been in this since 2001 and it doesn’t get any easier, does it? Drivers like Pattison, Bushell and I should be up there but some of these new lads – they are seriously talented. It’s looking like another classic season ahead.”

Zelos, aged just 17, was overjoyed with his third on race two’s grid behind Pattison and Rivett. He enthused: “That’s a pretty cool start for me and Ciceley Motorsport – I think Pattison and Rivett are both old enough to be my grandad! I'm definitely in good company there. I’m eighth on the grid for today’s first race so hope to use it to learn lots for tomorrow.”

Elsewhere Sam Watkins (Swansea) and Luke Kidsley (Northampton) gave 20Ten Racing and JamSport their best qualifying results with a 12th apiece.

This afternoon’s opening round of the 2016 Renault UK Clio Cup – 20 laps around the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch Indy circuit – is scheduled to start at 4.25pm.

CLICK HERE for full qualifying results.