Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) and Ash Hand (Nuneaton) have taken a pole position apiece in Renault UK Clio Cup qualifying at Cheshire’s Oulton Park circuit.
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Championship leader Whorton-Eales, driving for home team SV Racing, set the fastest time of all during the session with a best lap in one minute, 34.236 seconds to secure pole for the first of the weekend’s two Clio Cup races – to be held later today at 4.00pm.

WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Epsom) will line up alongside Whorton-Eales on the front row of that grid after setting a best time just eight thousandths of a second slower. Team Pyro’s Hand, 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp (Towcester), SVR’s Jack Mitchell (West Kingsdown) and Team BMR Restart with Pyro’s Ashley Sutton (Bishops Stortford) followed to complete the top six on the race one grid.

But of the drivers’ second fastest laps it was Hand’s 1m34.392s which was the best to give him pole for race two (which will take place tomorrow). Whorton-Eales, just .019s adrift, was next up to take second position on that grid ahead of Mitchell, Sutton, Stilp and Rivett.

However the front of both grids might have looked different had the session not stopped early after WDE’s Rory Green (Hildenborough) crashed in the final five minutes – at the time Sutton had just set the fastest first sector outright but was forced to abandon his effort.

“A pole and I’m on the front row for race two – that’s just about perfect,” commented Whorton-Eales. “I’m under no illusions, though. It’s going to be hard work staying in front or even being on the podium. The times are tight and there are opportunities around here to make a move on your rivals.”

Triple Champion Rivett added: “I’m happy with P2 but P6 for race two is slightly frustrating – I had to deal with quite a bit of traffic so couldn’t quite piece together a good second lap. But we’re in the fight and that’s the main thing. Around here you can do very well from anywhere inside the top eight places on the grid.”

Hand, who has won the last three races, said: “That was hard work – we knew the times in qualifying would be quicker than in Friday’s test, but there is quite a cross wind that is affecting the car’s behaviour on some sections of the track. Pole for race two is good but I’d like to keep my recent momentum going and do the business in race one this afternoon.”

Elsewhere Charles Ladell (Ipswich) and Jon Maybin (Chinnor) took turns to be the highest placed of the four drivers in Dunlop British Touring Car star Josh Cook’s Team Cooksport squad with eighth and seventh places respectively for the two grids. Pyro’s Brett Smith (Wellingborough), the son of touring car racer Jeff Smith, qualified seventh and then eighth fastest on his return to Clio Cup action.

Click here for the full qualifying times and sector analysis.