Jordan Stilp took his third win of the 2014 Renault UK Clio Cup season with a dominant victory in Round 14 at Knockhill.
Stilp stole the lead with a great getaway off the startline and never looked back, leading every lap en-route to victory.
Josh Cook lost ground at the top of the championship standings meanwhile with a battling eighth place finish, Mike Bushell benefitting most after taking another third place finish.
Bushell started the race from pole position, his fourth consecutive Clio Cup pole, however it was fellow front-row starter Stilp who got the best getaway to lead the field down Duffus Dip for the first time.
The 20Ten Racing ace benefitted from some battling behind to edge away early on, with Bushell left instantly defending from SV Racing pair Ant Whorton-Eales and Ash Hand.
After running side-by-side with Bushell heading into the final hairpin on lap one, Whorton-Eales snatched the lead heading into turn one on lap two, with Hand also getting ahead a lap later.
As Bushell settled in fourth, Hand was quickly onto his team-mates tail and passed him at the final hairpin on lap five.
At its peak, Stilp’s race lead sat at 2.5 seconds at the end of lap five, but with Hand free from traffic the KX Akademy member soon began closing on the leader.
Gaining a tenth or two each lap, setting the fastest lap of the race en-route, Hand got close by the end of the race but run out of laps, Stilp taking the victory by a quarter of a second.
“We got an absolutely blinding start, which was very unexpected, and just got into the lead,” said Stilp. “We held and maintained the lead from there, it was getting a bit close towards the end with Ash putting on the pressure. It’s been a brilliant weekend and we needed it to get back in the championship.”
Bushell meanwhile passed Whorton-Eales on lap nine for the final podium spot, with his sixth rostrum finish of the season moving him nineteen points behind Cook at the head of the standings with four races to go.
“It would have been nice to win today, to complete the double, but we didn’t make the best of starts on cold tyres,” commented Bushell. “For me though, Cook finished down the order and I’ve taken a good chunk out of him which brings my title hopes alive.”
It proved to be a rough and tumble race for the points leader, who was aiming to bounce back after a losing a couple of spots from his fifth place grid start on the opening lap.
An attempted move on Paul Rivett into the final hairpin on lap two resulted in contact though, with Rivett being spun around and Cook losing lots of ground in the process, with his team-mate Alex Morgan also losing out after having to take to the gravel in avoidance.
While Morgan recovered well and quickly regained two places after running three abreast into the next bend, Cook emerged a lowly thirteenth.
The KX Akademy member fought back though and after quickly getting into the top ten, he benefitted from Morgan running wide to get ninth before passing Charlie Ladell soon after. Cook pressured title rival James Colburn late on, but couldn’t snatch seventh before the chequered flag.
Ladell had run a strong fifth for the majority of the first half of the race, however a slide wide at McIntyres on lap twelve lost him the spot to Lee Pattison, before another off-track moment at the chicane straight after dropped Ladell down a couple more spots.
Pattison went on to take fifth at the finish and the Masters Cup class win in the process, further extending his advantage at the head of the class standings, while Westbourne Motorsport’s Devon Modell kept out of the various trouble to take his third top six finish of the season ahead of team-mate Colburn and Cook.
Ladell finished ninth at the flag, with Morgan frustrated in tenth, while Paul Rivett recovered to eleventh. Series newcomer Jamie Clarke led home returnee Finlay Crocker in twelfth, with Craig Milner, Paul Knapp and Mark Howard completing the finishers.
Provisional 2014 Renault UK Clio Cup Championship Standings (After Rd. 14 of 18):
1. Josh Cook – SV Racing – 326pts
2. Mike Bushell – Team Pyro – 310pts
3. James Colburn – Westbourne Motorsport – 299pts
4. Jordan Stilp – 20Ten Racing – 289pts
5. Ant Whorton-Eales – SV Racing – 285pts
6. Alex Morgan – SV Racing – 246pts
7. Lee Pattison – Team Pyro – 242pts
8. Paul Rivett – WDE Motorsport – 214pts
9. Ash Hand – SV Racing – 213pts
10. Devon Modell – Westbourne Motorsport – 188pts