Mike Bushell and Mike Robinson topped the timesheets in the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup and Michelin Clio Cup Series respectively during the annual Renaultsport Media Day official tests at Rockingham yesterday (19 March).
Bushell was at the sharp end in the Clio Cup ranks throughout the day, edging a close day of running that saw just over half of the championship’s confirmed entries on track.
The 24 year old posted a fastest time of 1m 30.217s in the final session in the new turbo-charged fourth-generation Clio racer with reigning champions Team Pyro, 0.360s faster than James Colburn, who finished in the top two in each of three sessions with Westbourne Motorsport.
Three-time Clio champion Paul Rivett got his first run in his new Clio, having only collected the car a day previously. The 35 year old, who is now eligible for the Masters Cup, finished the day third overall, 0.151s behind Colburn.
Second year driver Jordan Stilp was 0.779s further back with 20Ten Racing, just ahead of Pyro’s Rob Smith, while completing the top six was Devon Modell, who signed a deal to race for Westbourne Motorsport this week.
“I’m really pleased with how today’s gone, we worked through trying different things with the car and a lot of guys used new tyres which we didn’t and we were still fastest. We’ve been sound with the car so far, no troubles with anything, so that’s really positive,” said Bushell.
In the older third-generation Clio’s, as used in the Clio Cup between 2007 and 2013, and now utilised in the Clio Cup Series, it was former Clio Cup racer Robinson that led the thirteen car field with Total Control Racing.
Robinson topped the timesheets in two of the day’s three sessions, the 31 year old setting a best lap time of 1m 29.922s, nearly three tenths faster than Bushell’s best in the new car.
Fellow former Clio Cup competitor David Dickenson was next up, finishing up 0.284s off Robinson’s best, while Tommy Ostgaard impressed with SV Racing, finishing third overall, 0.109s ahead of five-times race-winner from last season Luke Herbert.
Fellow category race-winner Andy Jordan was fifth fastest with TCR ahead of privateer Paul Streather.
In the ‘roadcar’ class, many of the competitors elected not to run with a timing transponder, but from those that did, it was Westbourne Motorsport’s former single-seater racer Anton Spires who set the quickest time, 1m 41.860s, ahead of fellow championship newcomer Sarah Franklin.
The 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup kicks off next weekend, 29/30 March, at Brands Hatch, while the Michelin Clio Cup Series will return to Rockingham for its opening rounds a week later, 5/6 April.