Ashley Sutton secured a runaway second Renault UK Clio Cup victory of the season at Croft today (27th June) to reignite his championship challenge.
Sutton benefitted from a fierce race-long duel between Paul Rivett and Ash Hand behind over second place to streak clear to an 8.786 second success, the largest winning margin of the season so far, which he coupled with the fastest lap of the race.
Sutton said: “It’s how you wish every race could be – out in front with no pressure and you can control the pace and look after the car and tyres. It’s just the start I needed to my weekend.”
Pole-sitter Rivett lost out to Sutton off the line, and soon found himself under immense pressure from the in-form Hand, the Team Pyro man having won four of the previous six races heading into the Croft weekend.
Hand made an early challenge through the Esses and then out of the final hairpin on lap four, the former of those two moves being one he tried again two laps later. The duo ran side-by-side across the line heading into the final lap as well, but Rivett used all his experience to maintain second at the flag.
That was the WDE Motorsport man’s third podium finish of the season so far, while Hand’s third place made it five in a row for him. Closing onto their battle late on meanwhile was Jack Mitchell, the SV Racing man running fourth from start-to-finish.
The main mover during the race was championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales, who was left at the back of the grid after a hefty off in qualifying – the damage from which was repaired with just minutes to spare after a mammoth effort by the SV Racing team.
Their efforts were rewarded by a storming drive from Whorton-Eales, with a lightning start seeing him rise from seventeenth to eighth on the first lap alone. From there he was embroiled in a tussle with Charlie Ladell, Brett Smith and Tom Grundy at the bottom of the top six.
Whorton-Eales passed Grundy for seventh at the start of lap two, before passing Smith five laps later to move into the top six. Despite his best efforts he couldn’t also dispatch Ladell though, and was to eventually lose sixth back to Smith on the final lap.
Behind Grundy in his seasons-best eighth, Rory Collingbourne and Jordan Stilp rounded out the top ten for Team Cooksport and 20Ten Racing respectively, the latter having to fight back after starting the race from the pitlane.
Dan Holland took eleventh ahead of series returnee Paul Donkin, with George Jackson in thirteenth ahead of Masters Cup winner Peter Felix, Rory Green and Graham Field. The only driver failing to reach the finish was Mark Howard.
Full race results can be found here.