Mike Bushell and Lee Pattison lead the Renault UK Clio Cup as the championship leaves Brands Hatch. Both drivers took a race win and a second place from the first two races of the 2017 season.
Bushell started the weekend with a strong qualifying, taking both pole positions for the weekend, but Pattison snatched the lead of the first race at the first corner. Though the Team Pyro driver kept right on Pattison’s tail all the way through the race, he couldn’t find a way past the older driver and had to settle for second.
Race two and it was another brilliant start for Pattison, but the race winner started further back and exited the first corner in third. Meanwhile, Bushell was defending well against rookie Jack McCarthy.
McCarthy enjoyed a strong start to his car racing career. The 16 year old made his debut at Brands Hatch, and took a fifth in the first race of the weekend. It looked like he might be able to challenge for the race win in his second ever Clio Cup race, but a misjudged attack on Bushell left him vulnerable and Pattison and Paul Rivett both found a way past.
From that point onwards, it was a simple race for Bushell, with the two WDE drivers far back enough so that he didn’t have to worry about them.
McCarthy wasn’t the only rookie to make a great debut. Westbourne’s James Dorlin was the best graduate in the first race, climbing from 16th on the grid to fourth on track. The rookie very almost took a podium, pushing third place Rivett all the way to the chequered flag. The climb couldn’t be matched in race two, as he crossed the line 16th.
With battles up and down the track, new tyres most of the field hadn’t raced on, and slippery conditions in the opening race, there were surprisingly few retirements. Lucas Orrock, who had already run into trouble in practice, couldn’t get off of the line in race one. Orrock was running Ant Whorton-Eales’ championship winning car after he put his own Clio on its roof on Friday. It was looking like a weekend to forget for the JamSport driver, but he bounced back in race two to finish 11th.
Race two saw multiple drivers spin, but again, there was only one retirement. This time it was Kyle Hornby from Team Pyro, who found himself in the gravel and brought out the safety car to bunch up the field.
Bushell and Pattison will head to the second race of the season at Donington later this month with 60 points each. Rivett is 10 points behind after two third place finishes.
Feature image credit: Caroline Rhea