After a long summer break, it was finally time for the Clio Cup’s free practice at Snetterton on Friday. It was blustery but dry and Mike Bushell showed his usual pace in both sessions with half a second clear from the rest of the pack. Mike later admitted he was exploring the track limits to see where he could pick up extra time. This may explain the rapid pace and Mike’s occasional interesting moments during free practice two.
As always, the one Qualifying session for the Clio Cup cars decides the starting positions for both races so there is extra pressure to get it right. Less wind and a dry but overcast circuit made for good tracks conditions, all be it much cooler than in recent years, and it was always going to be close among the top drivers.
Early in the session we saw Max Coates make good on his promise rein in the championship leaders by setting a convincing pole time. It took nearly half the session for James Dorlin to surprise with a very well put together lap taking Max’s lead away.
With the top runners fighting a bizarre battle to be behind each other and gain a tow for advantage on the long track, James was able to hold on to pole until the dying minutes of the session.
Tiring of the in pack game, Mike Bushell made a break for it and after several laps was able to gain enough of a lead to go for a hot lap without giving anyone else an easy ride. In fact, it was so late Mike’s jump from sixth to pole was made as the chequered flag was flying.
Race one will be starting very much as we have grown used to this season, with Mike Bushell on pole and Lee Pattison beside him.
Race two is likely to be an interesting one with James Dorlin claiming his first ever pole position and Max Coates on the front of the grid beside him. Mike Bushell’s late dash in qualifying means he will start on the second row of the grid with Lee Pattison beside him.
Always fiercely competitive and heavy on cars as well as drivers, the Clio Cup is always worth watching. This season all the more so with three of the drivers having previously piloted touring cars and the quality of racing being so good.