Mike Bushell secured a long-awaited maiden win in the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup with victory in an action-packed Round Five at Thruxton.
The Team Pyro ace grabbed the lead from team-mate and poleman Lee Pattison off the line, and went on to lead the remainder of the race whilst chaos ensued behind him, coping well with a mid-race safety car en-route to victory.
“It’s such a relief, it was a little touch and go if we were going to make it this weekend, so to win is great,” Bushell told TCF. “I was a bit too over-eager at Donington to get the win, so I’ve come here, played it cool, got on and done it. Starting from pole for the next one, hopefully we can do the double.”
As Bushell led the pack into the complex for the first time, Pattison found himself shuffled down to fourth behind James Colburn and Josh Cook, the latter having started superbly to move up from seventh on the grid to third.
Thruxton specialist Pattison regained third from Cook at the final chicane, and a lap later he made a move for second. A late dive around the outside saw him briefly draw alongside leader Bushell, though he eventually slotted into second, with Colburn slipping back to fourth behind Cook in the process.
As the front three began to edge away, a queue of cars formed behind Colburn in fourth. Ant Whorton-Eales ran fifth, though he found himself under immense pressure from SV Racing team-mate Ash Hand.
Hand got past with a robust move at Cobb, leaving Whorton-Eales running side-by-side with Paul Rivett around the back of the circuit. Slight contact out of Church bunched the pack up, with Whorton-Eales, Rivett and Alex Morgan almost running three abreast into the final chicane.
A tap from Rivett in the braking zone sent Whorton-Eales sideways, with Morgan ending up as an innocent victim on the outside. Contact sent the erstwhile championship leader straight into the barriers and out of the race.
This brought out the safety car for a single lap, bringing the field together once again for a four lap sprint to the flag. A good restart for Bushell saw him maintain his advantage, while later in the lap, Cook squeezed past Pattison at Church for second.
In the pack behind, Hand forced his way past Colburn for fourth at Cobb, with the latter being pushed back to seventh behind Whorton-Eales and Rivett. He gained the places back soon after though, Whorton-Eales falling back with a damaged car, Rivett pulling off into retirement with a throttle sensor problem.
By this point, Bushell had forged a comfortable gap at the front and brought the car home for a 2.9 second victory. Cook was a comfortable second meanwhile, the result securing him the championship lead for the first time.
“I took a few deep breaths early on, with James [Colburn] and then Lee [Pattison] getting a massive tow on me,” Bushell added. “At the restart, I got enough of a gap on the first lap to get out of the tow, so I could just focus on settling down into a rhythm and getting it home.”
“The first corner was a case of everybody going into a funnel and seeing who came out, but luckily we got a good start and came out towards the front,” commented Cook. “After the restart Lee [Pattison] was struggling for pace, so I nipped up the inside at Church. It was a good result.”
A close fought battle for third ended with Pattison leading home Hand and Colburn, the trio taking the flag separated by just half a second. The result was Pattison’s first podium of the season, and secured him the Masters Cup trophy.
Devon Modell and Jordan Stilp emerged from the chaos in sixth and seventh respectively, the duo having had a great scrap in the latter stages. Rob Smith took eighth, having fallen to the back after stalling in his fourth place grid start, while Whorton-Eales completed the finishers in his battered and bruised Clio, having been the victim of plenty of contact during the race.
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2014/141803cli.pdf