One of the closest race finishes in Renault UK Clio Cup history brought a fitting conclusion to a hotly contested fourth round of the season at Donington Park this afternoon, Sunday, 21st April, with Paul Rivett (Banstead) just shading Josh Files (Norwich) by a mere 0.013 seconds on the sprint to the line.
In a repeat of Saturday’s third round, Rivett and Files were the class of the field but a fantastic piece of driving on the final lap by the three-time champion enabled him to overhaul his rival and claim win number two of the weekend. In doing so, the PER HIRE/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver increased his series lead to 13 points and earned the ‘BuyOils.co.uk Driver of the Event’ award.
“That’s one of the most fun races I’ve ever had in Clio Cup”, said an elated Rivett, “I got out of the car absolutely buzzing, not that I don’t usually but today’s race was that bit extra special. I really didn’t expect to win that race, I was happy to sit there and take the second place but he [Files] gave me an opportunity and I took it. I really thought he was going to beat me to the line though!”
Rivett, lining up second on the grid, managed to overhaul Team Pyro’s pole-sitter Files at the start but behind the front two Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells), from fourth, and Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield), from sixth, were in contention for the lead at Redgate after spectacular getaways.
Out of the corner, Rivett led from Whorton-Eales with Files third, Bushell fourth and Alex Morgan (Reading) and James Colburn (Worthing) battling over fifth. Colburn, though, dropped out of the lead group at the Old Hairpin after running wide and his afternoon was made even harder soon after at Coppice when forced wide through the gravel.
Into lap two, Rivett continued to lead the KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria car of Whorton-Eales but on lap three at the chicane Files produced a fine pass up the inside to take second position and he immediately set off after the leader.
Whorton-Eales, meanwhile, was shuffled back to third at Redgate by Bushell and as the two diced wheel-to-wheel, Morgan was put wide onto the grass out of Hollywood. Whorton-Eales emerged from the fray in third but after a wild moment at the Old Hairpin, he collected Bushell as he re-joined the track – causing the Westbourne Motorsport driver to retire to the pits with damage.
Further ahead, Files set about challenging Rivett for the lead and after getting good drive out of Coppice the pole-man shot past on the brakes into the chicane at the end of lap four. Rivett tried to hit back straight away but Files stayed ahead with Finesse Motorsport’s Jake Giddings (Wisbech) up to third ahead of Morgan, Whorton-Eales having recovered in fifth.
For the next eight laps, there was nothing to choose between the leaders with Files driving an inch-perfect race to keep the ever-present Rivett behind as they traded fastest laps – Rivett’s lap 11 best bagging him the two bonus points.
On the final tour, though, slight oversteer for Files at the Old Hairpin gave Rivett the opening he needed to apply even more pressure and on the run out of McLeans up to Coppice the multiple title winner positioned his Clio perfectly on the inside to get door handle-to-door handle with Files.
Into the chicane Rivett had the inside line to move ahead but on the exit Files had better drive to move back alongside. To the eye, on the drag to the line, there was nothing to split the two but across the timing beam Rivett had the win, his second of the season, by 0.013 seconds.
“We had a genuinely good race, I felt comfortable leading and I knew where he [Rivett] was quicker than me and where I needed to defend if I had to”, said Graduate Cup class winner Files, “We were fighting oversteer through the race and it just got the better of me at the Old Hairpin on the last lap. At the end of the day, we’ve come away with two second places and a great haul of points.”
Giddings and Morgan battled just as hard over the final podium place, Pyro’s Morgan managing to make the decisive move three laps from the finish at Coppice. Giddings didn’t relent in his attempts to retake third but just fell short by a mere 0.3 seconds – a season best fourth place though was an excellent result from ninth on the grid.
Morgan said: “After Brands it was always going to be difficult coming here with the expectation that had built up. I think after testing I got a bit of a reality check and realised I needed to really get stuck in, find the time I was losing. I knew [Paul] Rivett and [Josh] Files were quick here so to finish third today is good. You have to keep scoring big points, that’s so important, so I’m happy enough.”
Whorton-Eales headed the next group home in fifth, although he incurred a three point penalty for the earlier incident with Bushell. Team AWR’s Aaron Williamson (Spalding) starred in sixth, a fantastic drive through the order from 15th on the grid securing his best finish of 2013, with Lee Pattison (Liversedge) taking his second Masters Cup win of the weekend in seventh for JHR Developments.
Pattison, on his first weekend back in the Clio Cup since early 2011, had run as high as the overall top five during the first half of the race but a tangle involving team-mate Josh Cook (Bristol) at the Old Hairpin on lap seven put both off the track. Cook eventually finished in 13th place.
Colburn ended the race in eighth with Scuderia Vittoria’s Josh Wakefield (Colchester) a season best ninth, just fending off Total Control Racing’s Rob Smith (Telford) – both drivers having raced through well from the ninth row of the grid.
There are just two weeks to wait until the third race meeting of the Renault UK Clio Cup season, rounds five and six, which will take place at Thruxton in Hampshire on 4th/5th May. Prior to that, there will be an officially timed test at Snetterton in East Anglia this Wednesday, 24th April.
Renault UK Clio Cup is sponsored by www.buyoils.co.uk with support from ELF, NGK Spark Plugs, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Driver Standings (after Rd4):
1st Paul Rivett, 114pts; 2nd Alex Morgan, 101pts; 3rd Josh Files, 94pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd4):
1st Team Pyro, 187pts; 2nd Westbourne Motorsport, 158pts; 3rd Scuderia Vittoria, 118pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd4):
=1st Josh Files & James Colburn, 106pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 90pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd4):
1st Graham Field, 100pts; 2nd Finlay Crocker, 89pts; 3rd Simon Belcher, 84pts