Renault UK Clio Cup points leader Ash Hand has described the Silverstone outing last weekend as ‘damage limitation’ after he overcame engine problems and a time penalty to retain his championship advantage.
The Team Pyro ace saw his main title rivals Ant Whorton-Eales and Ashley Sutton share the wins in Northamptonshire to close his lead at the top of the standings to eleven points heading into the final two races.
Hand didn’t take a podium finish at Silverstone, the first meeting this season he hasn’t, and a pair of fourth places in qualifying meant it was also the first weekend he hasn’t qualified on the front row since Donington Park in April.
Unfortunately for Hand, his chances of challenging his title protagonists for a podium in race one were hampered by engine gremlins in his Clio, which meant he had a relatively lonely run to fourth at the finish.
Race two proved to be much more action-packed for the BRDC Rising Star and he emerged in front from a duel with three-time champion Paul Rivett – however a five second penalty for exceeding track limits meant he was demoted from third to sixth in the results.
“It was all a bit of a nightmare,” said Hand. “We weren’t quite on the money in qualifying – and when it’s as close as it invariably is around the National Circuit, that’s going to cost you – and then our engine issues in the first race meant we didn’t have the absolute pace we needed to challenge.
“In race two, I had to battle my way past Rivett, and although I was as quick as the two leaders once I was up to third – possibly even a touch quicker – by that stage, the gap was too large to do very much about.
“It’s such a short lap that any gains are always minimal because everybody is so evenly-matched. The penalty then rubbed salt into the wounds and effectively rendered it a weekend of damage limitation.”
*You’ll be able to read Hand’s thoughts on the season finale, as well as those of his main title rivals, on The Checkered Flag next week.*