Following one of the most memorable weekends of racing in the championship’s recent history, the Renault UK Clio Cup heads to Thruxton this weekend promising more of the same in the third meeting of the 2015 season.
The trip to Donington Park three weeks ago produced some thrilling slipsteam racing from the fourth-generation Clios, with the high-speed nature of the Thruxton circuit sure to produce more unforgettable encounters.
The star man so far this season has been Ant Whorton-Eales, the SV Racing ace kicking off his fourth year in the series with a pair of race wins and two runners-up finishes in the four races so far to secure an early 22 point championship lead.
Hot on his heels though is single-seater convert Ashley Sutton, the Team Pyro racer starting his first Clio season in style with a maiden win at Donington and two other podium finishes so far in his Team BMR-backed Clio.
As the first two races of the season showed, those two drivers have been almost inseparable on track and are sure to be fighting it out for race wins again in Hampshire this weekend.
Challenging them though is sure to be Ash Hand, who will be full of confidence after taking a long-awaited maiden Clio Cup victory at Donington. The Pyro man topped the recent official pre-event test at Thruxton, and finished in the top four at the circuit last season.
Triple Clio champion Paul Rivett will be heading to Thruxton buoyed by a first podium of the season at Donington, and will be hoping that his experience is key around the high-speed circuit as he aims to end a run that has seen him not win there since 2008.
Another driver to step onto the podium at Donington was Jordan Stilp, the result coming despite a relatively subdued start to the season for the 20Ten Racing ace, who heads south with a hint of damage limitation in the air having confessed to not being a big fan of the circuit.
Two drivers aiming to get into race win contention with their team-mates are SV Racing’s Jack Mitchell, who heads to Hampshire fresh from his first outright podium at Donington, and Pyro’s Brett Smith who has been on the cusp of the podium with fourth and fifth place finishes so far.
Charlie Ladell and Dan Holland will be aiming to impress at Thruxton with Team Cooksport and JamSport Racing respectively, with both having shown their racecraft with impressive drives so far this campaign – Ladell going from 13th to 5th at Brands, Holland from a pitlane start to eighth at Donington.
Their team-mates will be looking to move up the grid, Rory Collingbourne (Cooksport), Tom Grundy and George Jackson (JamSport), as will Rivett’s WDE Motorsport stablemate Rory Green who’ll be aiming to bounce back after a big accident at Thruxton in February testing.
In the Masters Cup meanwhile, Ben Seyfried currently leads the way having shared two class wins apiece with Paul Knapp so far. They will continue their duel at Thruxton, whilst 20Ten’s Graham Field will be aiming to snatch the top spot for the first time – Mark Howard having left the team in the run-up to the meeting.
Championship leader Whorton-Eales has told TCF he feels we’re set for an unpredictable weekend of racing at Thruxton, and with only one of the last four Clio champions having won at the circuit in their title years, the unique Hampshire circuit is renowned for producing some unexpected results.
The action kicks off with qualifying on Saturday (9th May) at 11:35, with both races taking place on Sunday (10th May) at 11:20 and 15:50 respectively, the latter set to be televised live on ITV4.
The championship standings heading into the weekend can be found here.