Ash Hand laid down a marker to his Renault UK Clio Cup title rivals by topping the timesheets in official Friday practice ahead of the Brands Hatch GP season finale.
The championship top four slotted into the same positions in the combined classification after the day’s two 45 minute practice sessions, with Hand’s best effort of 1m 39.366s seeing him edge out his Team Pyro stablemate Ashley Sutton by 0.089s.
Ant Whorton-Eales was only 0.034s further back in his Maximum Motorsport Clio, meaning less than a tenth and a half of a second split the three title contenders, while three-time champion Paul Rivett was close behind in fourth.
Rivett’s WDE Motorsport team-mate Dan Holland confirmed his status as one-to-watch this weekend with the fifth fastest time of the day around a circuit he took a superb fourth place finish at twelve months ago in only his fourth ever Clio race.
Paul Streather looks set for an impressive Clio Cup debut after setting the sixth fastest time with the returning Finesse Motorsport, while Josh Price finished seventh for Pyro as the last driver within one second of the top spot.
JamSport Racing duo Luke Kidsley and Tom Grundy were next up ahead of Jon Maybin, who rounded out the top ten to kick off his first outing in the series since Oulton Park in June, with Charlie Ladell, Alex Sedgwick and Sam Watkins next up.
Everyone in the field set their best times in the second of the day’s session except Ben Palmer, whose fastest effort of 1m 41.551s came in the opening outing, with session two ending with the debutant crashing heavily at Paddock Hill Bend.