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Reigning Renault UK Clio Cup vice-champion Ash Hand feels he has shown that “the potential is unquestionably there” after securing top ten finishes in each of his first four races in the Renault Sport Trophy.

Jumping up from a Clio Cup into the potent 550bhp R.S.01 prototype with Italian outfit Oregon Team has provided a steep learning curve for the 22 year old, with the late nature of the deal giving him limited pre-season running ahead of the season opener at Motorland Aragon.

A strong run in the opening Pro-Am encounter in Spain produced a sixth place finish for Hand and his team-mate, David Fumanelli, before he recovered well from an early drive-through penalty following contact to finish back in his starting position, ninth, in the first individual AM race.

Next up was a trip to Imola, with Hand and ex-GP3 racer Fumanelli showing signs of a strong burgeoning partnership again as they ran as high as third in the four hour Endurance race, before contact hampered their charge and they fell to eighth at the finish.

Hand would follow that up with a repeat result in the AM encounter after battling with gearbox problems. The four top ten results so far leave Hand ninth in both the AM Driver and Endurance Driver standings ahead of the next meeting at the Red Bull Ring on 16/17 July.

“It’s been a massively learning curve so far, but everyone at Renault and Oregon Team has been extremely welcoming and have made it easy for me to settle in,” said Hand.

“I think the toughest aspect has been trying to learn new circuits with a car that’s also new to me, so it really has been a case of straight in at the deep end. The more I get to grips with everything though, the more comfortable and confident I’m beginning to feel.

“We’ve not been all that far from the outright pace over the opening two rounds, so the potential is unquestionably there. I’m under no illusions that I still have plenty to learn, but I’m improving each time I go out and taking a lot of encouragement from that.”

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