Colburn back to winning ways at Thruxton in round six

Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) produced a superb performance during round six of the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup at Thruxton this afternoon, Sunday, 4th May, to secure a richly deserved first victory in the latest generation turbo-powered racing Renault Clio.

Under immense pressure throughout the 12-lap contest, which took place under pleasant sunny skies, the hardest work was done by Colburn at the start where a sensational launch from third on the grid was converted into the lead through the first corner.

Rocketing away from the second row, the 21-year-old jinked to the inside past pole-sitter and race one winner Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) and then had to keep his eyes firmly fixed on his mirrors as Lee Pattison (Scholes) and the rest of the chasing pack ran nose-to-tail for almost the entire race.

Pattison’s challenge went awry at the end of lap 10 when his Team Pyro car was tagged into a spin by the SV Racing with KX Clio of Ash Hand (Nuneaton), the latter getting out-of-shape under braking for Club Chicane.

As both ended up pointing the wrong way at the side of the circuit, WDE Motorsport’s Rivett was there to pick up the pieces and claim second while Bushell rounded out the podium in third as well as bagging fastest lap. Post-race, though, Bushell was given a 0.5 second time penalty which dropped him to fourth in the classification behind championship leader Josh Cook (Bath).

“It was a fantastic race”, said an elated Colburn, “It was so close, there was a train behind me the whole way round so we defended for our lives. Luckily I got a really good start off the line and managed to get into the lead, the slipstream around here is unbelievable as it’s so fast. No matter how much gap I had at Church they always seemed to reel me in.

“We need to push on from here, we’re back to where we should be at the front end so now we’ve got to try and get me and Devon [Modell – Westbourne team-mate] on the podium for a one-two as soon as possible.”

With all of the drivers and cars so evenly matched, the first half of the race delivered one long stream of bumper-to-bumper Renault Clios negotiating the massively challenging and ultra-fast 2.35 Hampshire track.

The pressure on Colburn, and indeed on each of the front-runners, was relentless with nothing to choose between the competitors but by lap eight the lead six cars managed to put some daylight between the next group which was led by former championship leader Alex Morgan (Reading).

Into lap nine, Colburn led Pattison, Hand, Rivett, Bushell and Cook with Morgan in seventh battling with 20Ten Racing’s Jordan Stilp (Potterspury), Westbourne’s Devon Modell (Maidstone) and KX Akademy driver Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield).

Cook managed to get ahead of Bushell for fifth while just up the road Hand, looking particularly rapid, went to the outside line into the chicane but as the rear of his Clio lost adhesion, the contact with Pattison was inevitable.

The delay for those behind enabled Colburn to head into the penultimate lap with an increased, although still slim, 0.8 second lead from Rivett with Bushell nipping through into third ahead of Cook, Morgan and Stilp.

Into the final lap Rivett had closed to within 0.3 seconds of the leader and, benefiting from a good tow up Woodham Hill for the last time, the three-time champion got alongside Colburn into the chicane but the Westbourne driver was able to hold his line and claim the win by 0.2 seconds.

“I’m absolutely chuffed with that result”, said a delighted Rivett who actually started the race ninth on the grid, “It just shows, around this place, qualifying doesn’t really mean a great deal – what a great race it was. I had a really good start, really good through the first complex, and then just picked away. I sat behind the leading three and was happy to stay there for a little while, saving my tyres.

“Unfortunately, Ash and Lee had a coming together but that left the door wide open for me. I was ready to start to pounce at that point anyway. I’ve got to say a massive thank you to everyone in the team and our fantastic sponsors, and also a mention for Urban Youth Action – a local charity to us which we’ve had on the car this weekend.”

Following the post-race time penalty for Bushell, Cook was elevated to into third to take his fourth podium on the bounce with Morgan fifth, up from 10th on the grid, and Stilp rounding out the top six after a strong drive from the sixth row.

Whorton-Eales managed to see off Modell for seventh while Hand and Pattison recovered in ninth and 10th respectively. The Clerk of the Course later applied three points to Hand’s racing licence for the lap 10 incident, which also means a deduction of three championship points and the SV Racing driver will additionally have a five place grid penalty for the next event at Oulton Park in June.

Pyro’s Rob Smith (Telford), who struggled with handling issues throughout the race, eventually finished outside the top 10 after a mid-race pit-stop. In the class battles, Colburn won the Graduate Cup with Rivett claiming the Masters Cup spoils.

Oulton Park International Circuit in Cheshire will host rounds seven and eight of the 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup season five weeks from now, over the weekend 7th/8th June.

The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup standings (after Rd6):
1st Josh Cook, 156pts; 2nd Mike Bushell, 135pts; 3rd Alex Morgan, 127pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd6):
1st Josh Cook, 174pts; 2nd James Colburn, 152pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 143pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd6):
1st Lee Pattison, 176pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 156pts; =3rd Mark Howard & Craig Milner, 94pts

Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd6):
1st SV Racing with KX, 323pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 235pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 214pts