Ant Whorton-Eales took pole position for Rounds 7 and 8 of the 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup with a great late run in qualifying at Oulton Park.
With constant rainfall hammering the Oulton Park circuit, the undulating track provided a stern test for the drivers in their fourth-generation Clio racers. Paul Rivett, Josh Cook and James Colburn took spells at the top before an early red flag.
The casualties were Mike Bushell and Ash Hand. In his newly-liveried Team Pyro car following his win at Thruxton, Bushell hit oil laid earlier by a HSCC Super Tourers entrant heading into Island, hitting the barriers and rolling over, with Hand following him off track soon after.
As the rain worsened shortly after the restart, the remaining SV Racing entrants all elected to switch onto fresh wet rubber with ten minutes to go. This proved to be a masterstroke as first Cook grabbed the top spot from Colburn, and then Alex Morgan moved up to second.
Whorton-Eales’ final two laps were the quickest of all though, a best time of 2m 04.788s giving him pole by six tenths of a second, and his second best time one tenth of a second slower securing him a comfortable pole for race two.
Lee Pattison, who topped the times in official Friday testing, grabbed second with his final lap, while Colburn placed his Westbourne Motorsport Clio third fastest, 0.072 seconds off a front-row start.
SV’s Cook and Morgan were next up, both within a second of their team-mates pole time, while Jordan Stilp and Devon Modell put themselves seventh and eighth respectively.
After having to sit out the remainder of the session, Bushell ended the session ninth in the times. Hand meanwhile was able to return to the pits but could end up no higher than tenth in the times, though he will start race one from the back of the grid due to a five place grid penalty carried over from Thruxton.
For race two, televised live tomorrow, Colburn will join Whorton-Eales on the front row with Pattison third. The remainder of the top ten will line-up the same, except Bushell and Modell swapping positions.
Completing the grid for both races will be series newcomer Charlie Ladell, Mark Howard and Craig Milner. Missing from action altogether meanwhile will be Rob Smith, the Pyro racer still in hospital with concussion following a heavy accident in Friday testing.
Full qualifying results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2014/142303cli.pdf