Ant Whorton-Eales took a superb maiden victory in the Renault UK Clio Cup in Round 14 at Rockingham, the 19 year old holding off championship leader Josh Files in the latter stages, Files extending his points lead to over 50 points with just two races remaining.
It was Whorton-Eales’ Scuderia Vittoria team-mate Stefan Hodgetts who started the race from pole position, however a phenomenal start for Whorton-Eales saw him storm around the outside of everyone on the approach to Deene and despite a brief drift, the KX Akademy racer held the lead coming out of the corner.
Behind, the tight squeeze into Deene claimed a couple of victims, with Tautvydas Barstys being spat out wide and Ronnie Klos spun around, while front-row starter Ignas Gelzinis’ race ended in the Yentwood gravel trap.
Behind Whorton-Eales and Hodgetts, Jake Giddings briefly slotted into third ahead of Ash Hand and Lee Pattison, his run in the position ending on lap two when a move from Pattison into Deene ending in contact, dropping them both down the order.
Paul Rivett stormed past Hand later in the lap to grab third, the two-time champion completing a fantastic start to the race having started eighth. Third quickly became second though as Hodgetts darted into the pits to get a puncture changed.
After a short safety car period to allow for the retrieval of Gelzinis’ Clio from the gravel, Rivett looked to challenge Whorton-Eales for the lead, however an error at Deene saw him run wide and drop to sixth.
At the same corner, Josh Cook and Josh Wakefield came to blows in their battle for eighth, the incident ending Wakefield’s race on the spot and causing an unfortunate highly-charged exchange between the two in Parc Ferme after the race.
Rivett’s error promoted Hand into second, however the Team Pyro racer was quickly dispatched by his team-mate Files, the championship leader turning his attentions to closing down Whorton-Eales in front.
Files caught onto his bumper as the race reached its conclusion, but with the championship on his mind he didn’t make any risky moves. This meant Whorton-Eales took the flag for his maiden win from Files, while Hand took a superb maiden podium finish in third.
James Colburn benefitted from the various drivers in front to scythe his way through from 16th on the grid to fourth at the finish, replicating his run from 17th to sixth yesterday. Giddings recovered from his earlier incident to take fifth, with Rivett ending up sixth.
Outside the top six, the race was filled with a number of fantastic battles in the midfield. A great four-way scrap for seventh eventually went the way of Jordan Stilp, the Westbourne Motorsport ace passing Alex Morgan on the final lap, with Devon Modell and Peter Felix close behind, all four having held seventh at some stage during the race.
Jacques Mizzi finished up eleventh ahead of a recovering Cook and series debutant Luke Herbert, while Barstys recovered from his first lap drama to take fourteenth from Finlay Crocker, Pattison and Hodgetts.
*Post-race, Wakefield was excluded from the meeting for his part in the post-race fracas with Cook.
Provisional Renault UK Clio Cup Championship Standings (After Rd.14 of 16):
1. Josh Files – 354pts
2. Paul Rivett – 304pts
3. Alex Morgan – 289pts
4. James Colburn – 264pts
5. Stefan Hodgetts – 251pts
6. Josh Cook – 235pts
7. Lee Pattison – 214pts
8. Ant Whorton-Eales – 207pts
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2013/133703cli.pdf