Hand Takes Championship Lead With Knockhill Win

Ash Hand has taken the championship lead in the 2015 Renault UK Clio Cup after carding his sixth win in the last nine races in the opening encounter at Knockhill.

Hand led the race from lights to flag, however it was far from plain sailing in the early stages with his Team Pyro team-mate Ashley Sutton hot on his heels.

Sutton looked to make a challenge at the end of the opening lap, and went on to maintain a half a second gap to the leader over the first half a dozen laps.

Hand got the hammer down as the race progressed though and set a new lap record, beating his previous best from twelve months ago, as he pulled away to a 1.770 second victory.

“The team got it spot on, the car was perfect,” said Hand. “I was able to pull away in the middle of the race, get the lead to about two seconds and maintain that gap. I’m delighted.”

It briefly looked like there would be a close battle for the final podium spot, with Paul Rivett being closed upon by Ant Whorton-Eales and Lee Pattison in the first half of the race.

The triple champion pulled clear in the next handful of laps though en-route to a fifth podium finish of the campaign, with Whorton-Eales, Pattison and Charlie Ladell going on to battle fiercely over fourth.

Pattison, who is making a one-off return to the series this weekend, got ahead coming out of the hairpin on lap twelve, but Whorton-Eales regained the spot as they went through Duffus Dip.

With Whorton-Eales struggling under braking, Pattison sensed more opportunities over the remaining laps but some great defensive driving from Whorton-Eales saw him hold him off for fourth.

Ladell was in hot pursuit en-route to his sixth consecutive top six finish ahead of Jack Mitchell, those two showing strong pace on their first outings this season with WDE Motorsport and 20Ten Racing respectively.

Rory Collingbourne finished eighth on the road, however a time penalty for exceeding track limits dropped him behind JamSport team-mates Dan Holland and Tom Grundy in the final results.

For Holland, it was a race of what might have been, with an unfortunate trip through the gravel on the warm-up lap meaning he had to start from the back of the grid instead of his initial fourth place.

George Jackson took eleventh ahead of Mark Howard, who secured the Masters Cup win courtesy of being the only class entrant in action this weekend, while Rory Green completed the finishers.

Full race results can be found here.