04/05/2016

Fearsome flat-out Thruxton next stop for wide open Renault UK Clio Cup title race

Hampshire’s fearsome high-speed Thruxton circuit this weekend (Sat 7/Sun 8 May) hosts the Renault UK Clio Cup’s latest two rounds as it again stars alongside the Dunlop British Touring Car Championship at what is traditionally one of the county’s biggest sporting fixtures of the year.
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Anticipated warm weather, excellent views of the challenging Thruxton track, a ‘big occasion’ atmosphere and swift access to the venue off the A303 are all likely to result in a mammoth trackside crowd at the event.

Both the UK Clio Cup’s races take place on Sunday with the action being shown live on ITV4 as part of the channel’s bumper BTCC coverage (11.00am-6.20pm)…

After the season’s opening four rounds produced four different winners – and with plenty more names yet to opening their victory account in 2016 – two highly-charged races from the UK Clio Cup are in store around Thruxton, a circuit famed for throwing up late twists.

The four winners so far are Finesse Motorsport’s Paul Streather, Team Cooksport’s Lee Pattison, JamSport’s Ant Whorton-Eales and WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett.

Rivett’s greater consistency means he arrives at Thruxton leading the standings. He does so off the back of a remarkable 100th podium result in the championship at Donington Park and is clearly intent on holding onto his lead as he goes after a fourth UK Clio Cup crown.

Rivett and his peers, however, have all been quick to tip Pattison for glory at Thruxton. He has a knack for excelling around the fastest circuit on the calendar and has won on it twice before. His qualifying lap record from 2014 – achieved at the dizzying average speed of 102.11mph – also stands as the fastest lap ever recorded in a UK Clio Cup car.

Furthermore Pattison will be eager to strike back immediately after a poor result in one of the two Donington races three weeks ago. Having led the points table after Brands Hatch’s opening rounds he is now back in third behind Rivett and Streather.

This year’s UK Clio Cup grid, though, is among the finest in history in terms of depth of quality and, seemingly, it appears the rest of the 20-plus car grid is capable of challenging for wins or podiums.

Former Champion Mike Bushell was fastest of all in last month’s official Thruxton test for the Team Pyro squad – it was also at the Hampshire track in 2014 that he took his first win that year before going on and winning the title.

Max Coates has taken to the UK Clio Cup like a duck water along with the Ciceley Motorsport team as two strong fourth places at Donington testify. WDE’s Charles Ladell and Cooksport’s George Jackson are also on confidence highs after dazzling at Donington – Ladell achieved his maiden podium there.

Coates’s Ciceley team-mates Dan Zelos and Ollie Pidgely (from nearby Salisbury and a track instructor at Thruxton), Pyro’s Josh Price, Senna Proctor and David Dickenson, Cooksport’s Rory Collingbourne, Ecomotive/Finesse’s Daniel Rowbottom, PP’s Anton Spires, Vanquish/WDE’s Paul Plant, 20Ten Racing’s Sam Watkins and JamSport’s Luke Kidsley all have proven front-running pace, too.

Elsewhere ‘Masters Cup’ runner Graham Field adds to JamSport’s numbers, while Finesse brings in 2014 British GT4 champ Jake Giddings to assist title protagonist Streather and Rowbottom on a circuit where ‘the slipstream effect’ can heavily influence results.