Bushell Edging Clear Ahead Of Clio Cup Visit To Oulton Park

by Simon Paice

Mike Bushell has started to assert his dominance on the 2017 Renault UK Clio Cup season as the championship prepares to head to Oulton Park this weekend for Rounds 7 and 8 of the campaign.

The 2014 champion continued his impressive start to the year with a win and a second place at Thruxton last time out, continuing his 100% podium record for the season so far.

Even more impressive though is Bushell’s monopoly on qualifying in the series, with a double Thruxton pole position meaning he has now secured 16 of the last 20 poles on offer.

Bushell is one of four drivers on this season’s grid who have previously won in the Clio Cup at Oulton Park, with the others being Paul Rivett, Ash Hand and James Colburn.

Rivett is a four-time victor in Cheshire and he knows that adding to that tally this weekend would be a big help in his quest to start narrowing Bushell’s current 35 point lead in the standings.

The other previous winners head to Oulton in contrasting moods meanwhile, with Colburn taking a first podium of the year at Thruxton, whilst Hand has picked up only one top eight finish so far.

Arguably the number one driver to watch this weekend however will be James Dorlin, who secured a stunning maiden Clio victory at Thruxton to cap off a superb start to his first Clio campaign.

The win and another podium in Hampshire have moved him up to fourth in the standings ahead of his return to a circuit he won twice at last year in the Michelin Clio Cup Series.

Fourteen points above him is the experienced Lee Pattison, who kicked off the campaign with three consecutive podium finishes and has only finished outside the top five once.

Max Coates has slipped to fifth overall meanwhile after a tough weekend at Thruxton, so he will return to the scene of his maiden Clio podium last year determined to get back on the rostrum.

Enjoying an impressive display at Thruxton was Dan Zelos, who qualified on the front row for both races and will now be looking to turn his pace into a first marquee result in the series.

Behind him, Jack McCarthy and Nathan Harrison both secured a top three grid position apiece two weeks ago and they too are clear contenders for the Clio Cup podium.

They are also the chief challengers to Dorlin in the Graduates Cup as it stands, with the class for rookie drivers also featuring the quick Myles Collins, Kyle Hornby and Aaron Thompson.

With four place finishes in each of the last two meetings, Daniel Rowbottom is also one to watch this weekend as he aims to go one better and reach the podium for the first time.

Kyle Hornby, Sam Osborne and Luke Reade have shown flashes of their potential so far, whilst with three heavy incidents in three meetings, Lucas Orrock will have his sights only on a clean weekend.

A returning face to the grid this weekend meanwhile will be Nicolas Hamilton, brother of F1 star Lewis, who is back for the first time since 2012 with WDE Motorsport.

Full championship standings can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/file/?f=TOCA/2017/171803ptscli.pdf

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