With just over a fortnight still to go until the resumption of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup season at Snetterton, the grid for rounds 11 and 12 has been boosted with the arrival of another new team and driver combination.
Former rally driver Paul Knapp, who only has three circuit-based race meetings under his belt, joins the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship feeder series after purchasing one of the latest fourth generation turbo-powered Clio Cup race cars from JHR Developments.
The 41-year-old, who lives in Farningham near Brands Hatch, is partnering with Northampton-based squad JamSport for his debut in the Renault UK Clio Cup – the team with which he contested three events in club-level Ford Fiestas.
Having watched the most recent Clio Cup races at Croft last month on live television, Knapp got in touch with R Sport – the one-make championship’s long standing official parts supplier – to find out the availability of cars and ultimately ended up purchasing his new Clio shortly after.
“I only decided I really wanted to do it last Wednesday!”, said Knapp, “I watched the Clios at Croft on ITV4 and I thought ‘that’s what I want to do’, so I made some enquiries, contacted John [Millett] at R Sport and he gave me some numbers to make a few calls. I got in touch with Steven Hunter, bought the car he had and now I’m getting ready for my first test on Thursday at Donington.
“Snetterton will only be my fourth race meeting, I come from a rallying background but the team I did a few races with in Fiestas, JamSport, will be running the car. What’s great about Clio Cup is it’s very well policed, you’re on a level playing field. At the end of the day, it’s about being on the BTCC package too – getting to race in front of tens of thousands of people and being on ITV4 as well.”
Knapp, a retired businessman, doesn’t have the most extensive competitive career behind him with just a couple of seasons in the BTRDA (British Trial and Rally Drivers Association) Series. Choosing to switch to circuit racing this year, the married father of one now makes the big leap into Clios with key support from sponsor FanUnited.co.uk
Long term, the Kent driver has the desire to progress into the BTCC but his initial foray into the Clio Cup from Snetterton onward is about obtaining as much knowledge as possible with JamSport with an eye on then potentially expanding the squad’s Clio Cup presence in 2015.
“If I don’t embarrass myself, which I don’t think I will, I would love to go to touring cars in the future as a privateer”, added Knapp, “For now, I’m working closely with JamSport to get as much data as we can this year and then try and take everything further next year.”
Rounds 11 and 12 of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup will take place at Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk just over a fortnight from now on 2nd/3rd August.
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.