Bushell Fights Back For Opening Croft Clio Victory

Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Mike Bushell has continued his championship charge in the Renault UK Clio Cup after storming back to victory in the opening race at Croft.

Bushell’s fourth victory of the season so far came after a spirited fightback from the points leader, who had previously lost his advantage with a wild moment at the chicane.

The 2014 champion had continued his qualifying dominance earlier in the day, taming the treacherous wet conditions to make it 20 pole positions out of the last 24 available.

Leading away from the front, Bushell headed the field into an early safety car period caused by an off for James Dorlin heading into Sunny Inn.

Max Coates maintained his front row start to run second, while a storming start for Daniel Rowbottom had seen him rise from sixth to third.

That would prove crucial on the restart lap as a slide wide across the grass for Bushell through the high-speed chicane dropped him to third.

Bushell would strike back almost immediately though, dispatching Rowbottom into the final hairpin, before latching onto Coates’ rear bumper in a tight four-way battle for the lead.

Two laps later and the lead was Bushell’s once again courtesy of a sensational move around the outside of a defending Coates at Tower.

The new leader’s efforts to pull clear were hampered by another brief safety car spell though, which came after Nicolas Hamilton hit the barriers at the exit of the chicane.

Bushell would control the next restart though and stormed clear of the pack in the remaining laps, taking the victory by 3.5 seconds by the chequered flag.

The battle behind came to a head on lap twelve, with contact between Rowbottom and Coates at Clervaux sending both wide and letting Nathan Harrison through.

While Harrison would go on to take his second Clio podium finish, Rowbottom would make it three in a row for himself after passing Coates late on.

One lap after losing out to Rowbottom, Coates would be passed by both Paul Rivett and Jack McCarthy at Tower corner to slip to sixth at the finish.

Lee Pattison took seventh ahead of James Colburn, the latter having as high as sixth at one stage, while Jade Edwards and Aaron Thompson completed the top ten.

Full race results can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/file/?f=TOCA/2017/172303cli.pdf