Mike Bushell is hoping he can repeat his performance from his title-winning 2014 Renault UK Clio Cup campaign and turn a front row start into victory at Thruxton tomorrow, in the process going some way to banishing the memories of his horror accident at the circuit twelve months ago.
The high-speed Hampshire track was the scene of Bushell’s maiden Clio Cup victory two years ago, and he once again showed his speed around the circuit in a Clio with a double pole position in today’s qualifying session.
The Team Pyro ace says he’s pleased to have returned to Thruxton in strong form, having endured a nightmare visit last year when he was hospitalised following a massive accident at the pit exit in his AMD Tuning Ford Focus in BTCC qualifying.
“History seems to be repeating itself a bit with 2014 at the moment,” Bushell told TCF. “I’m on a similar amount of points heading into the weekend, I’ve got myself on the front row, and hopefully we can continue it and take a win again.
“It’s nice to come back here and have a strong start to the weekend after last year though, where I didn’t even make the end of qualifying with the stupid accident I had. So to come back like this is brilliant, and I never expected that sort of gap to the field.”
Whilst Bushell says he enjoys the high-speed nature of the Thruxton circuit, having also topped the timesheets in the official TOCA test there last month, he feels his qualifying success also comes down to a full reset ahead of the meeting following a mixed start to his Clio return.
“I don’t know if it’s the circuit in particular, but it feels like this is the part of the season where I seem to settle down,” he reflected. “I put far too much pressure on myself to get on pole at Brands Hatch, with everyone looking at me as a former champion and BTCC driver, expecting me to be there.
“It’s not that easy though, there’s such a wealth of talent on the grid. We came away from a mediocre weekend at Donington Park, sat down with the team to work out what we needed to do with the car and came into this meeting with a fresh head.”
Bushell is joined at the front of the grid by his Pyro stablemate Josh Price, and while he hopes that the duo can work together to produce some podium results in tomorrow’s two races, he appreciates it won’t be easy around a circuit that always produces close Clio racing.
“I’m so pleased for Josh [Price],” he concluded. “It’s a result that he really needed and hopefully it’s a big confidence boost for him. It’s an added bonus to have him right up there with me, and hopefully we can work together at the front.
“It’s going to be hard to pull away, the tow always keeps the field behind nice and close around here. I need to focus on getting a good first few laps, to maybe get a car length or two gap behind me and go from there.”