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Back On Top As Racing Resumes
The Team BMR backed trio of Mike Bushell, Senna Proctor and Josh Price failed to disappoint at the weekend, when the Renault UK Clio Cup burst back into action at Snetterton following the six week summer break with Mike aiming to knock Ant Whorton-Eales from the top of the championship standings with just 3 points separating the duelling pair.


 
For race one Mike would start on pole position with Senna right behind him in 3rd with Josh taking up box number 11.  As the lights went out to signal the start of the race it was Luke Kidsley from P2 who made the best getaway along with Whorton-Eales from P4 with the latter passing Senna for 3rd as Kidsley attempted a move around the outside of Mike at turn one. However inevitable contact was made which saw the youngster fired off onto the outside of track moving championship leader Whorton-Eales up to 2nd and Senna back up to 3rd as Josh also moved up the order. By turn two it was Whorton-Eales who had taken the lead of the race after Mike's previous contact had hampered his speed as Max Coates moved up to 3rd ahead of Senna with Josh right up with them in 7th. However Whorton-Eales had suffered rear ended damage as another championship contender Paul Rivett retired with front end damage. By the time the train had arrived at Brundle, Mike made an impressive move around the outside to re-take the lead before they arrived at The Bomb Hole with the dicing duo back side by side as they crossed the line at the end of the opening lap. Half way around lap 2 Whorton-Eales seemed to be struggling with his earlier damage and had dropped to 4th moving Senna back up the order once again into 3rd as Josh held 7th behind Mike out in front with a now clear gap to Coates in 2nd. By lap 3 Josh had made his way past Chris Smiley for 6th as Whorton-Eales' forced Senna back to 4th after the Bridlington based youngster put his car up on two wheels going through Nelson. Josh then made a dramatic move on Anton Spires on the following lap moving him up the order to 5th at The Bomb Hole. At the end of lap 7 Whorton-Eales was forced to pit on safety grounds as the marshals pulled him in to have his now trailing rear bumper removed, promoting Senna back up to 3rd and Josh to 4th as Mike increased his lead at the front of the pack. However it was game over for Whorton-Eales as sufficient repairs couldn't be carried out forcing him into retirement. There were no further changes throughout the final three laps, giving the team their first two podiums of the weekend for Mike and Senna, with Josh hot on their heels with an impressive drive through the field from 11th to 4th, as Coates took the graduate win in an overall 2nd with Senna and Josh also taking their places on the graduate podium bagging four trophies between them. 
 
For race two Mike would once again take pole pole position with Senna 12th and Josh 14th. As the lights went out it was Kidsley from 2nd on the grid who made the jump on Mike as Whorton-Eales instantly jumped up to 3rd from 5th on the grid that became second by the time the pack arrived at Palmer sending Mike down to 3rd as Senna and Josh settled into 12th and 13th. There was contact between Josh and Dan Zelos on lap 13 that moved Josh and Senna up two places after they also made a move on Anton Spires. The result was a loss of speed for Josh that left 7 cars all battling for 10th place. A battle that Josh would win with Senna in 11th. Lap five would once again see Mike on the attack as he passed Whorton-Eales for 2nd at the newly named Wilson hairpin as a tribute to the late Justin Wilson, with Whorton-Eales making the same move on the following lap, not only on Mike but also leader Kidsley dropping Mike back down to 3rd. There was despair for Josh who was handed a 5 second time penalty for exceeding track limits, and although running in 10th the timing screens placed him 14th with Senna on track in 11th up the order to 10th. The battle up front wasn't letting up as Rivett had now moved onto the tail of Coates forcing the latter to attack Mike dropping him another place down to 4th on the exit of Agostini, with Rivett also passing two corners later. By the time they crossed the line at the start of lap 7 Mike was back up to 4th as both he and Rivett found a way past Coates, with Josh and Senna still running 10th and 11th albeit only their track positions due to the earlier time penalty. As they crossed the finish line at the end of lap 8, Mike held onto his fourth place, with Senna promoted to 10th and Josh demoted to 12th although he finished the race in 10th on track, as Whorton-Eales, Kidsley and old stager Rivett took to the podium along with Coates, Senna and Josh who finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the Graduate Cup.
 
Mike's impressive run at the Norfolk venue helped by the retirement of Whorton-Eales and Rivett in the opening race, have moved the Tunbridge Wells based racer to the top of the Championship standings with a 19 point lead over nearest rival Whorton-Eales, with Senna 8th and Josh 9th  separated by just two points.
 
Mike Bushell commented “It was great to take the championship lead at Snetterton however the pressure is on. I need to work hard with my team mates to get help at the front of the grid. Winning the championship this year is harder than in 2014 as there are so many drivers capable of winning and leading at the front.”

Senna Proctor commented “After a very disappointing home round at Croft it was nice to bounce back at Snetterton with another outright podium to add to the one we got at Oulton park & after a tough start to the season it is good to be climbing up the Championship table, the top five is now in reach and I will be doing everything Ii can to keep on climbing up there, with the goal of my first win in the Clio cup for BMR not too far away, to add to all the ones from the Ginetta Championships from last year!”

Josh Price commented “Snetterton was an incredibly annoying weekend for us. Strong pace in free practice had sights on a top three qualifying position for both races, unfortunately we made the wrong tyre choice in qualifying making everything alot harder for ourselves.  Race one was rewarding making up seven places to finish fourth,which was rewarding with all the BMR drivers in the top four.  Race two was much harder with alot more close racing and less opportunities to go forward.  Overall it was a weekend of 'what could of been' never the less we learnt some valuable lessons as a team and can develop from these mistakes for the future."

 
The Renault UK Clio Cup returns in just over three weeks’ time at Rockingham Motor Speedway on the weekend of the 27th and 28th of August where Mike will be looking to extend his championship lead over Whorton-Eales, Coates, Rivett and Lee Pattison who complete the top 5.
 
The complete championship standings are set out below:
 
1 MIKE BUSHELL 307
2 Ant Whorton-Eales 288
3 Max Coates 254
4 Paul Rivett 229
5 Lee Partison 229
6 Paul Streather 202
7 Charles Ladell 165
8 SENNA PROCTOR 163
9 JOSH PRICE 163
10 David Dickenson 120
11 Daniel Rowbottom 118
12 Luke Kidsley 106
13 Anton Spires 104
14 George Jackson 100
15 Rory Collingbourne 90
16 Ollie Pidgley 78
17 Rory Green 42
18 Paul Plant 40
19 Dan Zelos 35
20 Jake Giddings 31
21 Chris Smiley 30
22 Sam Watkins 30
23 Graham Field 16
24 Tom Butler 16
25 Craig Milner 14
26 Shayne Deegan 10
27 Darren Johnson 9
28 Peter Felix 3

Writtten By Chris Chatters
Photo credits - Phil Laughton Photography