Mike Bushell could wrap up the 2017 Renault UK Clio Cup title at Rockingham this weekend, though with nine drivers still in mathematical contention, it will take quite a turn of events for it to fall in the Team Pyro ace’s favour this time out.
Eleven podium finishes in twelve races this year, including four consecutive victories, have propelled the 2014 champion into a 98 point lead atop the standings, an advantage he will need to stretch to 136 points in Corby to win the title with four races to spare.
In the process, Bushell would follow only 2010 champion Dave Newsham in winning the crown with two meetings in hand and also become only the second multiple title holder in series history, but his path to success looks set to extend to Silverstone at least.
Paul Rivett is his closest challenger in the points and a pair of top seven finishes for the WDE Motorsport man this weekend would ensure the title battle heads onto Silverstone even if Bushell were to extend his current winning streak to six in a row.
Both Bushell and Rivett head into the meeting with three previous successes at Rockingham under their belts, but crucially the latter is still hunting a first win of the season and maximum points is a must this weekend as he tries to make an impact into Bushell’s points lead.
While nine drivers still hold a mathematical chance of glory, only Lee Pattison and Max Coates will join the top two in believing they could walk away with the title, though it’s certainly a long shot for both as they lie over one hundred points shy of the leader.
Neither driver are in a rich vein of form either, with Pattison securing just one podium finish in the last eight races and Coates only securing two in the same spell, however as their early season victories showed they are both capable of challenging for victory this weekend.
Other than Bushell, the next best current run of form belongs to Daniel Rowbottom, who has secured four podium finishes in the last six races to rise into the championship top five and heads to Rockingham with a maiden championship win firmly in his sights.
Experienced campaigner James Colburn will be looking to add to his two podium finishes so far, likewise his impressive Westbourne Motorsport team-mate James Dorlin, who is also looking to further close the gap at the top of the Graduate Cup standings to Nathan Harrison.
Harrison had a tougher than expected weekend at Snetterton, but is one to watch after taking second place finishes on each of the previous two outings, while Dan Zelos will be eager to build upon a pair of strong top six finishes last time out.
With six top three qualifying results under his belt, it seems a matter of time before Jack McCarthy secures a maiden outright podium finish, while his Team Pyro stablemate Lucas Orrock will hold similar ambitions after taking a seasons best fourth place finish at Snetterton.
Aaron Thompson heads to Rockingham looking to push on after recently breaking into the top ten, though in a competitive midfield the top ten berths are hard to come by with Sam Osborne, Luke Reade and Jade Edwards also in contention.
Two debutants join the grid this weekend meanwhile, with sixteen year old’s Zak Fulk and Bradley Burns entering the fray with Team Pyro, the latter becoming the second youngest driver in championship history behind former champion Tom Onslow-Cole.
Shawn Taylor and Sam Randon will make their third appearances of the season so far with STR and Westbourne Motorsport respectively, while Nicolas Hamilton is in action for a fourth time with WDE.
Full championship standings ahead of the meeting can be found here: http://tsl-timing.com/file/?f=TOCA/2017/173003ptscli.pdf