Josh Cook completed his Donington Park double as he led home a SV Racing/KX Akademy one-two-three-four in an action-packed Round Four of the 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup.
The drama started before the cars had even reached the first corner, as slight contact between poleman Jordan Stilp and the fast-starting Mike Bushell sent the latter straight off into the wall and out of the race.
As Stilp and others slowed in avoidance, Cook was able to grab the lead from team-mates Alex Morgan, Ash Hand and Ant Whorton-Eales, with Stilp slipping to fifth ahead of Paul Rivett and Lee Pattison.
After a short safety car period to aid the recovery of Bushell’s stricken Team Pyro Clio, the action resumed with Whorton-Eales making an immediate move past Hand at Redgate.
Cook was quickly forming a gap at the head of the field as Morgan, who was hampered by mechanical issues all meeting, began to back up the group behind.
Whorton-Eales’ pursuit was hampered at the chicane on lap six as they went in nearly four abreast, with Hand emerging ahead of Stilp and Rivett, with Whorton-Eales shuffled back to sixth.
That fight allowed Morgan a couple of laps of rest, but they were soon back on his tail. Hand made a lunge at McLeans on lap eleven, making the move stick a corner later. Morgan fought back into the chicane though, with slight contact sending him airborne across the kerb and both himself and Hand through the gravel.
Hand and Morgan still somehow emerged ahead of Stilp and Rivett, who soon had Whorton-Eales to contend with once again.
As Cook led the field home to complete his weekend double, Hand had a relatively comfortable run over the final few laps to second and his first podium finish of the season.
“It’s been fantastic all weekend, I couldn’t have asked for much more – other than a second pole position, but I can’t have it all,” Cook told TCF.
“The result is huge for the team, and we really needed to do it to stop Danny [Buxton] moaning, and coming in then, he was so happy I think he actually broke a smile. We’ve just got to take this momentum on to Thruxton now.”
After passing Rivett and Stilp, Whorton-Eales’ attentions turned to Morgan on the final lap. He passed him briefly down the Craner Curves, the championship leader fought back around the outside at the Old Hairpin before holding the place to the finish, maintaining himself a four point lead over Cook.
“It was a very hard race, so to come away with third place is brilliant,” added Morgan. “I really struggled with front end grip in that one, and with my power and the tow in these cars, I couldn’t get away.
“The guys didn’t make it easy, but my team-mates were very fair and hats off to Ash and Ant, they fought very hard races. I’m happy to come away with the points and for us to get one-two-three-four is a great result.”
Whorton-Eales completed the SV quartet in fourth, with Rivett and Stilp switching places nearly every lap in the final stages, the three-time champion eventually secured fifth and with it the Masters Cup honours.
Behind Stilp, Westbourne Motorsport team-mates James Colburn and Devon Modell took seventh and eighth respectively, with Rob Smith and Lee Pattison rounding out the top ten ahead of Craig Milner and Mark Howard.
2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Championship Standings (After Rd. 4 of 20):
1. Alex Morgan – SV Racing with KX – 107pts
2. Josh Cook – SV Racing with KX – 103pts
3. Ant Whorton-Eales – SV Racing with KX – 80pts
4. Mike Bushell – Team Pyro – 79pts
5. Paul Rivett – WDE Motorsport – 74pts
6. James Colburn – Westbourne Motorsport – 74pts
7. Rob Smith – Team Pyro – 70pts
8. Jordan Stilp – 20Ten Racing – 67pts
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2014/141603cli.pdf