Long-Awaited Victory For Whorton-Eales At Rockingham

Ant Whorton-Eales took his first Renault UK Clio Cup victory for nearly five months with a dominant lights to flag success in race two at Rockingham.

The win, his first since the second meeting of the season at Donington Park in April, closes him up in the championship battle and marks Maximum Motorsport’s first success in the Clio Cup.

The key to Whorton-Eales’ success was a blistering start off the line that saw him jump pole-sitter Ashley Sutton, allowing him to get out the way of some fierce battles for second behind.

That started at Deene hairpin on the first lap, when Sutton aimed to dive past Paul Rivett for second, but contact as he came across the front of Rivett’s Clio spun Sutton around.

Ash Hand benefitted to slot into second, with Rivett briefly slipping to fourth before Charlie Ladell let his title contending team-mate through at Gracelands.

Rory Collingbourne capitalised to pass Ladell as well at the Tarzan hairpin, but a slide wide at the next corner dropped him to ninth behind Sutton, starting an eventful battle between the two.

At the front, Whorton-Eales came under pressure from Hand early on, but a smart switchback by Rivett into Pif Paf on lap three saw the three-time champion snatch second.

From there, Hand found himself in a race-long duel with his experienced rival – with a thrilling start to the eighth lap seeing them run side-by-side round the banking and through Deene hairpin, Rivett just holding on to the spot.

Behind, Ladell ran fourth early on until contact whilst battling with Luke Kidsley at Yentwood on lap four dropped them both down the order, with George Jackson benefitting to slot into fourth ahead of Sutton and Collingbourne.

The battling between Rivett and Hand ahead meant the Team Cooksport man was able to close up the 4.5 second gap to them as the race progressed and get in the thick of the battle with three laps to go.

On the penultimate lap, a late dive at Deene Hairpin saw Jackson overtake the championship leader for third, but his podium hopes were dashed later in the lap at Tarzan when Hand squeezed back through.

Those moves gave Rivett a little gap to secure second place, but he could do nothing about Whorton-Eales who had streaked clear to a 8.4 second victory, to add to his previous success at the circuit in 2013.

Hand secured third for his tenth consecutive podium finish, while Jackson took his career best Clio result in fourth to cap off a superb weekend, having broken into the top six for the first time in race one.

Behind, his Cooksport team-mate Collingbourne was determined to pass Sutton for fifth. After the duo came to blows on lap thirteen, they made more contact through the Brook chicane on the final lap, with Collingbourne ending up getting nudged into the wall.

He was able to get across the line in sixth though behind Sutton, completing a maiden top six double for the weekend, while Kidsley and Ladell recovered from their earlier contact to finish seventh and eighth respectively.

Peter Felix took the Masters Cup victory in ninth overall ahead of class points leader Mark Howard, with debutant Josh Price finishing eleventh ahead of Tom Grundy, Rory Green and Graham Field.

Full race results can be found here.