Whorton-Eales: “We Can’t Afford To Mess Around”

Ant Whorton-Eales is ready to go on maximum attack in the Renault UK Clio Cup next weekend (16/17 April) at Donington Park as he aims to claw back some ground following a mixed outing at Brands Hatch.

The opening weekend of the season had started in hugely positive fashion for the JamSport Racing ace with an initial double pole position in qualifying, however he was excluded post-session for a technical infringement.

Not only did he therefore have to start both races at the back of the grid, he was also held for an additional ten seconds after the remainder of the field set off – which made his comebacks through the field all the more remarkable.

Setting the outright fastest lap in both races, Whorton-Eales gained 32 places across the two encounters as he rose to eighth and sixth place finishes to earn himself enough points to lie sixth in the championship standings.

“It was a great weekend overall, bouncing back from the disappointment of qualifying,” Whorton-Eales told TCF at the recent official Clio Cup test at Thruxton.

“Obviously we got the double pole position and set a really quick time, so it a real shame to get the penalty as I think that starting from the front, we might have had a really special weekend.

“We had to come from the back though and it went really well, we got fastest laps in both races and got some decent points on the board considering the circumstances.”

The 21 year old is confident of a strong outing next weekend at Donington Park, and admits that despite there being a long way to go in the season, the lost ground at Brands Hatch means he heads into the next few meetings with a change of mentality.

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

“Those boys should have a bit of a panic on at Donington if we start somewhere near the front,” he commented.

“It adds a bit of pressure on to be honest, being down in fifth and 24 points adrift, but it means I’ve already got nothing to lose now really. We’ve got to crack on, give it everything and get lots of points from every weekend. We can’t afford to mess around now.”

The Brands Hatch meeting marked Whorton-Eales’ first competitive outing with JamSport, having joined them over the winter as his fourth different team in the Clio Cup so far. The Litchfield-based racer says the switch has been a positive one.

“I’m really enjoying it with JamSport, they’re a great bunch of people,” he enthused.

“It’s a team of people that have come across from lots of different forms of motorsport, so when we come together, we come up with some really good ideas and try new things. So far, everything is going really well.”

This season looks set to be one of the most competitive yet during Whorton-Eales’ tenure in the championship with a talented mix of returning stars and new drivers battling at the head of the field, and he feels the added competitiveness changes the dynamic of the title battle.

“It’s a really good grid, with some 23 cars now and apparently more to come, so it’s going to produce some quality racing,” he concluded.

“Last season, where it was just me, Rivett and the two Ash’s at the front, you had to come in the top two every race to have any impact in the championship and try to gain ground on people.

“This year though, with so many quick drivers and potential podium finishers in the field, I think it’s going to be like years gone past where consistent top four or top five in every race can win you the title.”