Ash Hand has made it three wins in the last four Renault UK Clio Cup races with another lights-to-flag win in Round Six, though he was certainly made to work hard for his second Thruxton success by Team Pyro team-mate Ashley Sutton.
Hand and Sutton had secured a team one-two in the opening race of the weekend earlier in the day, and soon established themselves as the pace-setters in the second twelve lap encounter – their fight for the lead eventually going down to the final corner.
From the front row of the grid, Hand and Sutton led the field through the complex for the first time as an early change of position saw Paul Rivett sweep around the outside of Dan Holland for third place.
Quickly pulling away from those behind, the top two were able to start a race long duel for the lead, with Sutton not crossing the line more than 0.340s behind Hand over the course of the first ten laps.
After waiting patiently for an opportunity, Sutton saw a chance come heading into the final chicane on the last lap and dived down the inside of his team-mate. Contact ensued, sending both down the escape road – with Hand able to stay ahead to post the victory.
“I knew he was going to make the move at some point,” said Hand on the dramatic climax. “Out of Church, he was coming fast and he got such a good tow on me. He was so close before I even thought he was, it was a tough one, but finishing the race in the places we did I can’t complain.”
“I had allowed myself the space to set myself up for it as I knew how much quicker we were through Church,” reflected Sutton. “I used the slipstream to my advantage, he left the door open for me and I got alongside. We just touched wheels which unsettled both the cars, but we both got through the chicane though and it didn’t affect the results.”
The majority of the race proved to be fairly lonely for Rivett in the final podium place, with early battles behind allowing the three-time Clio champion to break away. He was slowly reeled in by Ant Whorton-Eales in the closing stages though and they ran side-by-side through the chicane for the final time, Rivett just holding on for a second podium finish of the season.
Whorton-Eales was the man on the move in the early stages of the race, rising from eleventh on the grid to seventh on the opening lap before benefitting from drama between Holland, James Colburn and Rory Collingbourne to move into a fourth place he would never relinquish.
Charlie Ladell climbed from tenth on the grid to fifth at the finish, leading home his Team Cooksport team-mate Jon Maybin who completed a superb Clio Cup debut with a second top six finish. Colburn’s Clio Cup return ended with a seventh place, with Collingbourne in eighth.
Jack Mitchell secured ninth ahead of Jordan Stilp, who dropped back after running fifth early on, and Jamsport trio George Jackson, Tom Grundy and Holland, the latter losing ground after a recurrence of a fuel pump issue that had led to his race ending incident in the opening race.
Sole Masters Cup entrant Mark Howard and Rory Green completed the finishers, with all fifteen entrants reaching the finish of the race.
Full race results can be found here.