Mike Bushell has taken a huge step towards securing the 2014 Renault UK Clio Cup title after a dominant lights-to-flag victory in race two at Rockingham, coupled with retirement for chief title rival Josh Cook, moved him 28 points cleat at the top of the standings with two races remaining.
Bushell, who took the championship lead for the first time with victory in the weekend’s opening race, was briefly challenged for the lead by Jordan Stilp and Paul Rivett but soon broke away and took a comprehensive victory by over three seconds.
“This has been the best weekend of my racing career and its all come at the right time. Everything is clicking, the team, myself, the car and we’re in the right frame of mind at the right time,” Bushell told TCF.
The key moment in the race came at the start, with a clutch problem for Cook leaving him creeping from his pole position spot. The SV Racing ace got away slowly, allowing Bushell to storm into a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
“Getting Cook off the line was pivotal, from that point I could set my sights on pulling away, going as fast as I could and getting the win I needed,” Bushell added.
Cook meanwhile was handed a drive-through penalty for a jump start, one of four SV drivers to be penalised for the offence, which took him out of a fourth place he’d earned with a great move around the outside of race one adversary James Colburn at Deene hairpin.
After serving the penalty, Cook returned to the track in determined mood but after gaining a couple of places, he slid into the gravel at Tarzan on lap ten, an incident he attributed to a brake problem that he’d previously pitted to look at.
“We had the pace to win today,” commented a dejected Cook. “The red lights stayed on for a ridiculously long time and the clutch started to drag. I lost a few places anyway but still got the penalty. It’s frustrating that I’ve lost the championship lead due to factors outside my control.”
Behind Bushell, the duel for second between Stilp and Rivett went the way of the three-time champion, a run out of Yentwood on lap four giving him the inside line and the spot into Chapman to secure him his fourth second place finish of the campaign.
With Cook and team-mates Alex Morgan and Ash Hand taking their drive-through penalties from fifth, sixth and seventh respectively, it was Ant Whorton-Eales who emerged as Colburn’s chief challenger for fourth. After recovering from opening lap contact, the SV racer snatched the spot on the final lap.
A fantastic three-way scrap was played out behind them meanwhile for the final top six spot between Charlie Ladell, series debutant Dan Holland and Lee Pattison. The battle culminated with double contact at Brook on the penultimate lap that eliminated Pattison.
Ladell took sixth at the finish ahead of Holland and Devon Modell, with Hand and Morgan left rounding out the top ten after their penalties. Mark Howard and newcomer Simon Horrobin completed the finishers, the latter having ran as high as eighth after a strong opening race.