Ash Hand has set his sights on securing a podium finish this weekend at Brands Hatch to kickstart his 2014 Renault UK Clio Cup championship challenge.
Hand returns for his second season in the Clio’s following an impressive 2013, in which he took thirteen top ten finishes from sixteen starts, including a first rostrum finish at Rockingham. That got him ninth in the final standings, earning him a spot on the KX Akademy for the new season.
The 19 year old has had a busy winter getting to grips with the new fourth-generation, turbocharged Clio Cup race car, testing at all five tracks the championship will visit during the first half of the season, Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Thruxton, Oulton Park and Croft.
Despite a big 125mph ‘off’ at Thruxton last month, Hand feels he has adapted well to the car, and to his new surroundings in the SV Racing awning.
“I’m getting on really well with all the boys at SV and have established an excellent relationship with the mechanics and engineers. We’ve been fast everywhere we’ve been in testing, which is tremendously promising for the season ahead,” said Hand.
“The new Clio is really responsive, physical and technical; it invites you to be more aggressive, and the driver can make more of a difference than before. I immediately enjoyed the new car and it seems to suit my driving style more than the old model. That said, it also bites you a lot harder as soon as you make a mistake.”
With plenty of testing miles under his belt, Hands attention has now turned to the opening rounds at Brands Hatch, and the Warwickshire-based racer feels a strong start to the year is vital for a title push.
“I’m feeling really confident heading into Brands Hatch,” he added. “The aim is to bank some really solid points and hopefully finish on the podium. I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be a fiercely-competitive season, and we’ll soon find out who has done their homework best over the winter. With so many drivers capable of fighting up at the front, consistency will be the name of the game this year – and ultimately, what will win the championship.”