If a feisty opening encounter at Brands Hatch two weeks ago is anything to go by, the 2015 Renault UK Clio Cup looks set to be a fascinating one, with a unique triple-header meeting at Donington Park next up this weekend.
The Leicestershire venue will host three Clio Cup races after the opening round of the season at Brands Hatch was postponed following a nasty multi-car incident, with that race rescheduled for this weekend alongside the existing Rounds Three and Four.
The race that did take place at Brands featured a memorable Clio Cup duel between Ashley Sutton and Ant Whorton-Eales, the latter just snatching the win at the final corner after Sutton led throughout.
For Sutton, it was a near dream Clio Cup debut with Team BMR with Pyro as he topped both practice and qualifying on top of leading the race, with victories now firmly in his sights in Leicestershire.
Pyro stable-mate Ash Hand completed the podium in Kent and is hungry for a first-ever Clio win, whilst team-mate Brett Smith will be looking to move up the grid after a low key debut.
Whorton-Eales leads the SV Racing challenge meanwhile, his team-mates Jack Mitchell and Ben Seyfried having come to blows in the Brands race, an incident they’ll both hope to bounce back from at Donington – a circuit Mitchell won twice at last year en-route to the Ginetta Junior title.
One team who will be looking to put Brands Hatch firmly in the past is JamSport Racing. Dan Holland and Tom Grundy were both involved in the race-ending incident, and the team have been working hard in the two weeks since to ensure both are on the track alongside top-ten finisher George Jackson.
Team Cooksport will be looking for strong results meanwhile at a circuit their driver coach Josh Cook won both Clio races around last year, with Charlie Ladell in particular targeting a maiden Clio podium after a great drive from thirteenth to fifth at Brands.
Two drivers who will be hoping to be in contention for outright race wins this weekend will be three-time champion Paul Rivett (WDE Motorsport) and the highest placed returning driver from 2014 Jordan Stilp (20Ten Racing), with Paul Knapp, Mark Howard and Graham Field also chasing silverware in the Masters Cup.
With Freddie Hunt, Rory Collingbourne and Rory Green also set to be on track, eighteen cars are expected to tackle qualifying on Saturday (18th April) at 12:10, with Round One following at 17:30 using the starting grid as established at Brands Hatch.
Rounds Three and Four will follow on Sunday at 10:05 and 15:10 respectively, the latter scheduled to be televised live on ITV4, online at itv.com/itv4 and via the ITV Player and Sky Go apps.
The championship standings heading into the Donington Park weekend can be seen here.