Ash Hand made it two wins in two race meetings in the Renault UK Clio Cup with a lights to flag victory in the opening race of the weekend at Thruxton.
Hand, who took his maiden Clio Cup win at the 37th time of trying last time out at Donington Park, had dominated proceedings in Saturday’s qualifying session with a double pole position.
A great getaway from the top spot saw Hand lead the field through the complex for the first time, as Paul Rivett stormed around the outside of front-row starter Ashley Sutton for second.
The race was soon under the control of the safety car meanwhile after an incident between top six starters Dan Holland and the returning James Colburn at the complex led to their retirements, with George Jackson also forced off track in avoidance to leave him at the tail of the field.
At the restart, Hand edged away as Rivett started coming under pressure from Sutton – the impressive Clio rookie getting second spot into Allard at the start of lap seven.
Ant Whorton-Eales also got ahead around the outside of the complex on the same lap, the championship leader mounting a fightback after a tough qualifying session.
The top three didn’t change from there, with Hand breaking the tow of those behind to sweep clear for an eventual 1.3 second victory.
“It was a tough race,” Hand told TCF. “In the first four laps or so it was about doing perfect laps, trying to break away a car length a lap until I’d broken the tow.
“It’s like a flick of the switch, once you get so far ahead they can’t catch you in a straight line and then you can focus on consistent lap times and not pushing the car or tyres too hard. It’s a great start to the day.”
As Sutton and Whorton-Eales completed the podium, Jordan Stilp made a challenge for fourth on the penultimate lap at the chicane, but was ultimately unsuccessful and was left to settle for fifth behind Rivett.
Behind, Jon Maybin came out on top of a great three car scrap with Jack Mitchell and Charlie Ladell to take sixth, impressively matching the pace of the top three at the end of the race on his Clio Cup and Thruxton racing debut.
Rory Collingbourne took ninth ahead of the recovering Jackson, those two having traded places a number of times in the closing stages, with Tom Grundy eleventh. Mark Howard secured the Masters Cup honours as the sole entrant in the class in twelfth, with Rory Green completing the finishers.
Full race results can be found here.