“I genuinely believe the best is yet to come ….”
Ash Hand has fired a warning shot to his Renault UK Clio Cup rivals that his recent dominance in the series is far from over, after a double victory at Knockhill this past weekend moved him to the top of the championship standings for the first time.
Those wins continue a stunning spell for the Team Pyro ace which has seen him win six of the last eight races, with three consecutive lights to flag successes the latest results in a season that has seen him only finish off the podium in two races so far.
Hand, who is mentored by BTCC star Andy Priaulx, put plenty of hard work over the long eight week Clio summer break to perfect use during the trip to Scotland, instantly returning to the top of the timesheets in Friday practice.
He carried that pace over into qualifying, taking a double pole position to make it seven for the season so far, and they provided a perfect platform for him to take a lights-to-flag victory in the opening race, breaking his own lap record from twelve months ago in the process.
It would be a repeat performance in the live-televised second race to complete his second double win of the season, having similarly dominated proceedings at Thruxton in May, to build a nineteen point championship lead.
“I was extremely calm all weekend, and after our form during practice and qualifying we knew we would be quick in the races,” said Hand.
“In the first one, it took me a few laps to break the tow to my team-mate [Ashley Sutton] behind. I could sense he was pushing pretty hard, so I turned the wick up slightly to try to pressurise him into a mistake and it worked a treat.
“It was a similar story the next day. I concentrated on preserving my tyres and looking after the car to begin with, and after edging away, I maintained a consistent level throughout – like in race one, I had extra pace in my pocket if I’d needed it.
“I was a little disappointed to miss out on fastest lap and a completely clean sweep, but that was only a very minor blot on an otherwise flawless weekend. We dominated, just like we did at Thruxton and in a series as competitive as this, that’s a massive achievement.
“We’re in the driving seat now, but we can’t afford to let up for even a split-second. We need to keep on winning races. I know I could start thinking about settling for podiums and ‘safe’ points finishes, but that’s not how I go racing.
“To win the championship, you have to prove you are consistently the best, and I genuinely believe our best is yet to come…”