Josh Cook has given his slim Renault UK Clio Cup title chances a boost by out-qualifying championship leader Mike Bushell for the final two rounds of the season at Brands Hatch, including a pole position for Round 18.
In a dramatic session that went down to the final laps around a drying Grand Prix circuit, it was Cook’s SV Racing team-mate Ash Hand who took pole for Round 17, while Cook’s fastest second best time put him at the front for race two.
The opening twenty-five minutes of the session proved to pale into insignificance, after a red flag late on after off-track moments for Paul Knapp and Simon Horrobin allowed the whole field to change onto slick tyres for a five-minute shoot-out for pole position.
Bushell had led the way into the red flag period, but while many in the field changes onto new slick tyres during the stoppage, the points leader focused on getting to the head of the queue in the pitlane for track position rather than new tyres.
That move didn’t work out for the Team Pyro racer as a number of his rivals jumped him in a tense final two laps, but he was content with sixth and third in close proximity to Cook: “I made a mistake on my last lap, but I’m happy. I need a combination of top five results in the two races really, so we’ll just have to see how we go.”
Hand was one of those to overhaul the championship leader, with his last lap of the session stealing him a first-ever Clio pole position from Paul Rivett by just 0.011 seconds: “It was really difficult, a hard session, and with a red flag with three or four laps to go I was down in 12th or something. We knew it was all going to be down to the last couple of laps though – I’m really pleased.”
Equally pleased is Cook, who took third on the grid for the opening race, three places ahead of Bushell, alongside his race two pole: “It’s good to be as close to the front as possible. It’s good to have Ash with me at the front and we know what the carnage could be like midfield so I’m glad we’re near the front for both.”
James Colburn will line up fourth for the opening race ahead of Alex Morgan and Bushell. Jordan Stilp took seventh, 0.573s off pole, with Ant Whorton-Eales, Charlie Ladell and Dan Holland rounding out the top ten behind.
On the grid for race two, Colburn will share the front row with Cook, while Stilp will line-up fourth alongside Bushell. Hand and Morgan are fifth and sixth, capping off a strong showing for the SV team, while a similarly strong performance for WDE Motorsport sees Rivett and Ladell on row four.
Ten drivers had times disallowed during the session for exceeding track limits.