With eight class wins from the ten races so far Team BMR with Pyro ace Ashley Sutton is surely cruising to the Renault UK Clio Cup’s Graduates Cup for younger drivers, right? Jack Mitchell and Charles Ladell might just disagree…
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It is true that when Sutton finishes he finishes ahead of his rivals in the Graduate Cup – for drivers under 23 on 1 April and in their first full Clio Cup season. The exception was at Donington Park where SV Racing’s Mitchell ‘inherited’ the class win after a time penalty relegated Sutton down the order…

A retirement for Sutton in race two at Oulton Park allowed Ladell to take the honours. But normal service was resumed at Croft where Sutton was twice well ahead of the opposition for wins number seven and eight in class.

Consider, though, the Graduate Cup’s points-scoring system. Drivers score according to where they finish in class as per the outright championship irrespective of their overall finishing position in that race. So that’s 32 for first in class, 28 for second, 25 for third, 22 for fourth and so on… (bonus points for fastest laps are not allocated).

With five second places in class (as well as his Donington win), Mitchell is therefore just 22 points behind Sutton in the Graduate Cup standings at present. Ladell, with a trio of seconds and thirds apiece plus that win at Oulton with Team Cooksport (he has now moved to WDE Motorsport), is only a further nine adrift in third.

So that’s 31 points – less than a win – covering the top three. That does go out to 46 when each driver’s current two worst scores are considered (just like the outright championship these must be dropped come season’s end) with Sutton on 256, Mitchell on 219 and Ladell on 210. Cooksport’s Rory Collingbourne (on 173 points after deducting his two worst scores to date) could also have a say before the season is over…

Sutton said: “It is still quite close but as long as I keep concentrating on staying near the front I’m sure it will eventually look after itself although, as we’ve seen already this season, one moment on track can change things quite dramatically…

“While I’ve got myself into a position where I’m fighting for the outright crown which of course takes precedence, just look at some of the drivers who have won the Graduates Cup in the past. It definitely will mean a lot to whoever goes on and wins it. I’m certainly not taking my off the ball with it.”

Graduate Champions: Renault UK Clio Cup
2014 Jordan Stilp
2013 Josh Files
2012 Josh Cook
2011 Aron Smith
2010 Sam Tordoff