Whorton-Eales, Sutton rivalry continues in Donington Park qualifying

Ashley Sutton (Bishops Stortford) and Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) took a pole position and a second apiece for tomorrow’s two Renault UK Clio Cup rounds at Donington Park as the championship’s qualifying lap record around the Leicestershire circuit was annihilated.
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Team BMR Restart with Pyro’s Sutton set the ultimate pace to grab pole for Sunday’s opening race with a best lap time of one minute, 16.644 seconds – that is some seven tenths of a second inside the previous qualifying record. SV Racing’s Whorton-Eales was just 0.031s adrift and, of the drivers’ second best laps, his was the fastest ahead of Sutton to give him pole for Sunday’s second race around his home track.

Following their robust battle for victory at Brands Hatch just a fortnight ago tomorrow’s two showdowns – with them starting alongside one another – are eagerly anticipated …

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Sutton. “The car feels awesome and I’m fairly confident it will be good at looking after its tyres over a full race distance as well. I might even have had two poles as I was on for another strong lap near the end of that session only to get held up by traffic. As for the races, I’m sure Ant’s going to put a lot into beating me but I’m ready for him.”

Championship leader Whorton-Eales added: “I’m happy with that – two front row starts are exactly where I wanted to be. From there I can fight for wins and I think we’ve got the car to do it, just as we had at Brands Hatch. I’m sure Ashley and I will not be the only ones having a say in matters, though…”

Qualifying third fastest for both starting grids was Whorton-Eales’s team-mate Jack Mitchell (West Kingsdown) while Pyro’s Brett Smith (Wellingborough) and Jordan Stilp (Towcester) shared fourth and fifth positions on the two grids respectively – the latter driving for local team to Donington, Derby-based 20Ten Racing. Sixth for both grids was Pyro’s Ash Hand (Nuneaton) who had been fastest of all in mid-week testing but was unable to replicate that pace in qualifying, possibly due to minor rear suspension damage to his car.

Paul Rivett (Espom) and Dan Holland (Dagenham) were the fastest of the WDE Motorsport and JamSport Racing teams’ drivers with seventh and eighth fastest times for both grids. Team BKR’s Freddie Hunt (Goodwood) took a pair of ninths while Charles Ladell (Bury St Edmonds) and Rory Collingbourne (Newport) shared tenth and 11th places for Team Cooksport.

SV Racing’s Ben Seyfried (Yeovil) was 13th overall and the best-placed of the older Masters Cup drivers with class points leader, Cooksport’s Paul Knapp (Farningham), 15th and his closest rival for the race one grid.

Later today (5.30pm) the Clio Cup will hold its original opening round – planned to take place at Brands Hatch on Easter weekend but abandoned due to a crash and rescheduled for Donington. The grid order will be as decided at Brands Hatch with Sutton on pole from Hand, Whorton-Eales, Seyfried, Rivett, Stilp, Holland and Smith.