Eight races remain in the 2017 Renault UK Clio Cup and the mission statement is clear in the paddock as the series returns following the mid-season summer break …. stop Mike Bushell.
Following the halfway mark of the season, the 2014 champion is 69 points clear atop the standings and is on course to become only the second multiple champion in series history,
That has come courtesy of a stunning first five weekends of the campaign, with Bushell winning half of the races so far this season and impressively finishing off the podium just once.
Bushell’s qualifying record is the most impressive though, with eight pole positions this year meaning the Team Pyro racer has now taken 20 out of the last 24 available.
Bushell has started the last four Clio races he’s contested at Snetterton from pole position, a run that Lee Pattison, Paul Rivett and Max Coates are leading the charge to stop.
The ultra-experienced Pattison and Rivett are his closest challengers in the standings, with twelve points separating the WDE Motorsport stablemates in their fight for second.
Pattison remains second in the standings despite not finishing on the podium in any of the last three meetings, though he has been a regular top six finisher through the year.
Triple champion Rivett has climbed onto the rostrum five times, though he is still to record a win this year and is determined to do so at a circuit he’s won at four times before.
This is a pivotal weekend for Coates meanwhile. He believes he can still win the title, but to start closing his 104 point deficit he knows he needs to add to his three podiums so far.
One of the in-form drivers heading into the summer break was Daniel Rowbottom, with a superb run of three podiums in the last four races moving him into the championship top six.
A maiden championship win is his next target, with Nathan Harrison holding similar ambitions after superbly taking a second place finish on each of the last two weekends.
That has propelled him to the top of the Graduate Cup points ahead of James Dorlin, who is looking to return to the level of performance that guided him to a maiden win at Thruxton.
Dorlin has been benefitting from working alongside the hugely experienced James Colburn, who sits in the series top five after returning to the top step of the podium back at Oulton.
Top four finisher Dan Zelos will be determined to make a podium breakthrough at his home circuit, while the rapid rookie Jack McCarthy is always a threat to the top three.
Two drivers who are realistic threats to the top six at their local track are Lucas Orrock and Shayne Deegan, the former showing an upturn in pace since a move to Pyro.
One to watch is Westbourne’s Sam Randon, who returns for a second outing after stunning the paddock at Croft by qualifying on the front row on his championship debut.
Ciceley Motorsport trio Jade Edwards, Luke Reade and Sam Osborne have shown strong progression across their maiden campaigns, likewise Aaron Thompson and Kyle Hornby.
Full championship standings ahead of the meeting can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/file/?f=TOCA/2017/172303ptscli.pdf