IN TOPSY-TURVY QUALIFYING
Championship leader Ben Winrow (Earls Barton) came through a rain-affected qualifying session with pole position for both rounds three and four of the 2008 ELF Renault Clio Cup. The Team Pyro driver managed two fast qualifying laps before rain started to fall just a few minutes into the session, ruining all the drivers’ chances of improving on their times set early in the 30-minute stint.
One qualifying session sets the grid for both races of the weekend at Rockingham International circuit, with each driver’s fastest time determining the grid position for round three and the second-fastest time deciding the grid for round four. With the threat of rain forcing all cars onto the track immediately, many drivers were unable to set two consistent times leading to unusually different grids for each race.
Winrow’s best time was 1min 30.853s (76.87mph) with his second-best some half-a-second slower but still good enough to clinch pole for round four. However, five of the top-10 qualifiers for round three will start well down the order for round four.
Avoiding that issue were Coastal Racing’s Carl Bradley (Morecambe) with fourth and second for the two races, P9 Raceshop/Range Storage’s Lee Pattison (Liversedge) with fifth and sixth, JHR Developments’ Paul Rivett (Banstead) with sixth and fourth and Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Effingham) in eighth and fifth.
However, Mardi Gras Motorsport’s Gavin Pyper (Fleckney) set lap times that place him third and 28th places respectively, TCR’s Jonathan Ridley-Holloway (Barnstaple) is seventh and 17th, Full Speed Racing’s Phil Glew (Alford) will be ninth for round three but 23rd for round four, while Amery Motorsport’s David Shepherd (Sandbach) lines up 10th and 27th.
Moving into the top-10 for round four are JHR’s Richard Cannon (Chesterfield), Mardi Gras’ Árón Smith (Rathfarnham), JD Pierce with Robertshaw Racing’s Derek Pierce (West Kilbride), Valtra with FSR’s Peter Felix (Allestree) and EPS UK with Solutions Racing’s Robert Gaffney (Waltham Abbey).
Commenting on his performance, Ben Winrow said: “I got a bit lucky with the rain but obviously delighted with the result. All the boys on the pit wall were waving at me to get on with it because the rain was about to arrive. I managed to get two laps in with the tyres warm enough to allow me to get on with it. Once the rain came there was no point going out again but it’s looking very good for tomorrow.”
After technical scrutineering, TCR’s Alex MacDowall (Carlisle) who had qualified second and 15th was excluded from qualifying for a fuel irregularity. He will start both races from the back of the grid with a 10-second delay, while every other driver will advance one place on the new grid.
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