Josh Cook took a hard-fought victory in an action-packed Round Eleven of the 2014 Renault UK Clio Cup at Snetterton to extend his lead at the top of the championship standings.
Cook benefitted from a poor getaway from pole-sitter Mike Bushell to snatch the lead at the start, and after an exchange of the lead with Jordan Stilp at mid-distance, the championship leader regained the advantage and pulled away in the late stages for his fourth win of the year.
“It’s another box ticked as we move closer to the final race of the season and that’s what counts,” Cook told TCF. “It was a great race, we’ve got another win and we’ve made our cushion at the top a little bit bigger, which is the key in the long run.”
As Cook led the field around the opening lap, Bushell slotted into third behind Ant Whorton-Eales. Behind, the action kicked off three corners in, contact from Stilp when attempting to take fourth from Alex Morgan sent the latter into Paul Rivett. Damage sustained in the hit eliminated Rivett, while Morgan struggled on with rear end damage.
Stilp managed to emerge from the fight in fourth and was quickly on the hunt for a podium place. He mounted a challenge on Bushell on lap two, with his move past unfortunately dropping Bushell back to seventh.
The forward charge of Stilp continued though, and on lap three he found a way past Whorton-Eales to take second, with his sights quickly turning to Cook’s lead. As the top three fought away, Lee Pattison, James Colburn and Ash Hand were battling over fourth behind.
Hand forced a move on Colburn ahead, but as became the norm in the race, contact occurred. The end result was Colburn and Pattison falling to seventh and ninth respectively, with Hand continuing in fourth. His challenge ended soon after though, steering damage forcing him to retire in the pits.
For a couple of laps, the race cooled down as the field settled into a rhythm, until on lap six there was a change of the lead. Stilp got alongside with a move at Agostini and despite running off onto the grass at Hamilton, he managed to return to the track and make the move stick through Oggies.
Cook remained firmly attached to his rear bumper though and fought back a lap later with a move through Montreal, Stilp being hung out to dry on the outside and forced down to fifth in the process. From that moment on, Cook moved clear of the field en-route to a 1.8 second victory.
“Jordan [Stilp] did a pretty good move on me into Agostini, it was a bit rough but that’s racing and I got him back on the next lap with a little tap into the hairpin,” added Cook.
“While the times weren’t great, it felt like we had a couple of issues with the car. It was great fun to bring it home in first place and now we need to keep clean tomorrow and look after the points leaderboard.”
Whorton-Eales moved into second briefly, but a sideways moment from him on lap eight lost him ground. Bushell benefitted from this to cap off a great recovery drive with second place at the flag.
“The start was horrendous, but what a race from there to come back from seventh through to second,” commented Bushell. “Stilp send me back with an attack at the hairpin, and after that I’m really happy to have taken second as it was just a really good race.”
Colburn meanwhile completed the podium, the Westbourne Motorsport racer fending off a late challenge from Stilp to secure his fifth top three finish in six races.
“I kept my nose clean and looked for the gaps when they appeared, and I only made contact with others when they were hitting my rear bumper. I’m really pleased to start eighth and get up to third,” commented Colburn.
Stilp finished the race fourth on the road, but post-race the 20Ten Racing driver was awarded an eight second penalty, demoting him to ninth in the classified results, and a three place grid drop for race two for his contact with Morgan.
That penalty promoted Charlie Ladell into fourth at the finish, comfortably the WDE Motorsport driver’s best finish of his maiden Clio campaign so far. Whorton-Eales finished fifth, having passed Devon Modell on the final lap, while an equally furious pair of Pattison and Morgan were left seventh and eighth.
Mark Howard rounded out the top ten behind Stilp, with Craig Milner and debutant Paul Knapp completing the finishers after enjoying a great race-long duel.
Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/toca/2014/143103cli.pdf