Files re-opens championship advantage with second victory

Local hero Josh Files (Norwich) re-opened a healthy points advantage at the top of the Renault UK Clio Cup standings during round 12 of the season at Snetterton 300 Circuit today, Sunday, 4th August, with an immaculate victory on home soil.

Taking his second win of 2013 with an outstanding drive from pole position, the Team Pyro racer was unchallenged throughout and eventually took the chequered flag by almost four seconds – even though he coasted across the line as he celebrated the success!

Added to second place in round 11 on Saturday, 3rd August, Files’ faultless performance at the head of the field today earned him the ‘BuyOils.co.uk Driver of the Event’ accolade. With the addition of bonus points for the fastest lap of the race, he has extended his championship lead to 13 points – six points when the category’s ‘drop score’ ruling is applied. It was also his seventh Graduate Cup win.

“The start was so important, I got a good enough start – even though I had a new clutch in the car for today – led into the first corner and never looked back really”, said Files, “I made that jump on the first lap, just like Paul [Rivett] did yesterday, and that’s what counted for the win. I’m very happy to have taken the fastest lap as well, all on my home track, it’s fantastic.”

While Files made no mistakes from pole to surge into a good early lead, Rivett wasn’t able to get away from the line as cleanly and the Names.co.uk/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver slipped from second to third behind Westbourne Motorsport’s fast-starting James Colburn (Worthing).

As Colburn and Rivett battled, and KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria’s Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) also closed in, Files was able to streak away at the front and by the end of the opening lap alone he held an unbelievable three second margin.

Rivett produced a great pass at Agostini to re-take second but Colburn tried to hit back on the run out of the infield through Williams, which enabled Hodgetts to get in on the act. With all three glued together on the long run down Bentley Straight, Colburn had to take avoiding action to miss contact with the rear of Hodgetts’ car and so went straight on at the Esses.

Hodgetts emerged in second place with Colburn rejoining the track ahead of Rivett and the next group of cars led by JHR Developments’ Josh Cook (Bristol), Pyro’s Alex Morgan (Reading) and Total Control Racing’s Rob Smith (Telford) – the latter producing a superb first lap from 12th on the grid.

On lap two, Rivett again passed Colburn at Agostini – this time for third place – and immediately began to set fastest lap pace as he set off after Hodgetts. Further back, meanwhile, Pyro’s Ash Hand (Nuneaton) moved into seventh after Smith was shuffled back outside the top 10 when dicing for position with Masters Cup class leader Lee Pattison (Liversedge).

Within a couple of laps, Files’ lead was just shy of four seconds after posting the fastest lap of the race on the third tour with a time of 2m10.280 seconds (82.03mph) and from that point forward it was all about controlling his huge advantage.

Just behind, Hodgetts and Rivett were split by only 0.2 seconds and the former’s excellent defence enabled Colburn and Cook to close in to make the fight for second a four-way. On lap six, though, Cook went wide at Hamilton and although retaining fifth he dropped away from the podium scrap.

Into the closing stages, Rivett began to show a little more urgency about trying to get past Hodgetts and had a brief look into Riches on the penultimate lap but thought better of it. Then, on the final lap, the unexpected happened as the three-time champion lost third to Colburn after getting totally sideways at Hamilton – a result of dropping a wheel off the circuit when close behind Hodgetts.

While Files cruised to victory and Hodgetts took the runner-up spot 0.7 seconds clear of Colburn, the Westbourne driver making a welcome and deserved return to the podium for the first time since the opening weekend of the season, Rivett took fourth after saving his lurid slide superbly.

“When you’re defending for second it’s not like defending a win, there was a bit of pressure but it’s not the same”, said Hodgetts, “I wasn’t really thinking about Paul [Rivett], I was thinking about trying to chip away at Josh [Files] and hope he made a mistake – but after the first lap he’d gone. It’s just a shame Josh [Files] got the break he did but second is good.”

Reflecting on his third podium of 2013, Colburn commented: “We’ve been working harder with the tyres as we struggled a bit earlier in the season with some tyre degradation. We showed at Croft we’d found some good pace and now we’ve got back on the podium which is great. There’s another long break now before Rockingham, so we’ll just have to see what happens there.”

Cook took fifth place some three seconds clear of Morgan with Hand just 0.3 seconds shy of his Pyro team-mate at the flag, the karting graduate capping another strong weekend. Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) was originally eighth for KX Racing, ahead of Masters Cup winner Pattison and Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells), but received a one second penalty post-race which dropped him to 10th.

The race was largely incident free with the exception of the first lap when Scuderia Vittoria’s Devon Modell (Maidstone) was put sideways at the hairpin. As the tightly bunched pack attempted to avoid contact, several cars did unfortunately collide.

Four drivers didn’t make it to the end of the opening tour – namely Lithuanian driver Tautvydas Barstys, Ronnie Klos (Market Harborough), Maltese racer Jacques Mizzi and Spain-domiciled Briton James Nutbrown.

There is now a six week break from action for the Renault UK Clio Cup with the championship set to resume over the weekend 14th/15th September at Rockingham in Northamptonshire, alongside the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship.

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 Rd12):
1st Josh Files, 299pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 286pts; 3rd Alex Morgan, 255pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd12):
1st Team Pyro, 552pts; 2nd Scuderia Vittoria, 445pts; 3rd JHR Developments, 403pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd12):
1st Josh Files, 337pts; 2nd James Colburn, 294pts; 3rd Josh Cook, 268pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd12):
1st Simon Belcher, 307pts; 2nd Graham Field, 283pts; 3rd Lee Pattison, 256pts