AirAsia Renault Clio Cup Championship contenders Paul Rivett and Aron Smith topped the two Friday practice sessions as the penultimate meeting of the season got underway at Brands Hatch.
Smith clocked a 1:40.639 to top the first session before Rivett lowered the benchmark time to a 1:40.323 later in the day. The two-time champion lies third, four points off the lead, and is excited at the prospects for the weekend ahead.
“I'm very happy to end the second session in P1. This is just what we need when we are fighting for the championship here this weekend; what a great couple of races it is going to be. As we know, testing is never quite a mark of where everybody is going to end up finishing in the races, but it's definitely a good sign that we are at the front.”
Smith holds a narrow advantage in the standings with two races to come this weekend and is confident of holding onto the lead, believing his race pace will be competitive.
“The first session went very well for us. Unfortunately, we have no new tyres this weekend so to be P1 in the first session is a big achievement, especially as a few of the others were using new tyres. I don't want to count my chickens before the eggs hatch, but I think that we should be alright this weekend. I'm confident and I have good pace round here, out the back especially, which is really what you need.”
Scuderia Vittoria's young charger Luke Wright put in a cracking lap in the second session to finish second overall and feels he can make further improvements as the weekend unfolds.
“Testing has been pretty good for us. The session was quite average for us in the morning. However, after making some changes the car was very good to drive in the second session. I think there's certainly more time to find on track, so hopefully we will be quicker come qualifying.”
Jake Packun ended the day third overall ahead of Smith while James Colburn and James Dixon, the two other title challengers, finished Friday fifth and sixth respectively.