The top three drivers in the 2015 Renault UK Clio Cup championship standings locked out the podium positions in a close fought opening race of the weekend at Rockingham.
Ashley Sutton, who currently sits third in the standings, snatched the advantage from championship leader Ash Hand off the line and went on to the lead the race from lights-to-flag.
It wasn’t easy though with Hand putting his Team Pyro stablemate under immense pressure in the early stages, before the resurgent Whorton-Eales closed onto their tail.
Maximum Motorsport’s Whorton-Eales, who had closed up a three second gap to the top two, briefly snatched second from Hand before they changed positions again later in the lap.
Sutton went on to take a third win of the campaign, with Hand and Whorton-Eales securing their eleventh and ninth podium finishes of 2015 so far respectively.
Sutton: “I’m over the moon. It’s nice to stop Ash’s little winning streak, especially at Rockingham which isn’t my strongest track.
“There’s such an advantage in the slipstream around here, so he was towing up to me on the banking on every lap. It meant I had to defend my line into the hairpin, then pull my gap again through the lap, before he closed back up. It was a cat and mouse game.
“Ant certainly came at the right time. He took Ash’s attention away in the final few laps, he had to focus on defending and it was a god send to be honest. It’s a great result, and we start P1 tomorrow so we want to convert that into another win.”
Hand: “We drove a good race, but realistically we didn’t have the pace to beat him there. If we’d have been out front it could have been a different story, as we’d have been able to make a stand and not let him past.
“I was trying to put loads of pressure on him in the middle of the race in the key areas, the corners where he could make a mistake, but to be fair to him he drove a great race and kept me at bay, I couldn’t fault it.
“We’ve got a few set up changes to make for tomorrow and I think they’ll make a big difference, so hopefully we can go and win the second race.”
Whorton-Eales: “We had a really good start, but then got tangled up at the first hairpin and ended up losing a lot of ground. [Paul] Rivett had a bit of a moment which let the top two get away, so once I got past Riv I didn’t think there was a chance of catching them.
“I saw Sutton was defending, so I kept on pushing and pushing and saw the times coming down on the pitboard. We got there in the end, got ahead of Ash and then he got me back, which was all good, fair racing.
“I can’t ask for more really. I wasn’t expecting to close that gap in, but we showed we’ve got some serious race pace in the car, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
The second race of the weekend will be televised live on ITV4 at 13:00 tomorrow (Sunday 6th September).