Josh Files led the way in the final qualifying session of the 2012 AirAsia Renault Clio Cup UK at Brands Hatch, the Team Pyro star taking a double pole position in a session which saw title contenders Jack Goff and Paul Rivett struggle.
On a drying track, tyre choice was tricky for the tin-top stars, with the slippery conditions catching out a number of drivers through the session. Jake Giddings was the early pace-setter after two laps before the red flag emerged after Rob Smith made a trip to the gravel trap out the back of the circuit.
Files headed to the top of the timesheets at the restart, despite having one of his times removed for exceeding track limits, though it wasn’t long before the safety car was back out after Tautvydas Barstys went off at Paddock Hill.
As the session restarted with ten minutes to go, James Colburn was the first to snatch provisional pole, before Giddings, James Dixon and Josh Cook each enjoyed spells on top. Files soon returned to the top though as the session reached its conclusion, with a best time of 1:46.951s giving him pole for race one, with his second best time making it a double pole.
Stefan Hodgetts gambled with slicks all round early on and struggled towards the rear of the field, forcing him to quickly adjust to the preferred tyre strategy of slicks on the front and wets on the rear. The KX Akademy reaped the benefits, getting in the mix at the end to go second quickest for both.
Championship leader Goff could only go a frustrating ninth for race one, but was an improved fourth for the second encounter. This crucially puts him ahead of chief championship rival Rivett for both, with the former triple champion only able to go twelfth and eleventh having changed tyres mid-session like Hodgetts.
Mike Bushell went a seasons best third quickest for race one on his first weekend running with Westbourne Motorsport, added to a sixth for race two, while his team-mates Ant Whorton-Eales and Colburn will start eighth and fourth, and fifth and ninth respectively.
David Dickenson continued his impressive return to the series with fourth and eighth for the two races, while a late off track excursion for Cook meant he couldn’t challenge for pole at the end, the double winner at Silverstone last time out ending up sixth and twelfth, while Dixon finished the session tenth and seventh.
Full qualifying results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2012/124203cli.pdf