Lights-to-flag Thruxton victory for Pattison

Renault UK Clio Cup returnee Lee Pattison (Liversedge) made the most of his maiden category pole position during the fifth round of the 2013 season at Thruxton this afternoon, Saturday, 4th May, by taking an impressive lights-to-flag victory.

In only his third race back at the wheel of a Clio, having been away from the championship for the past couple of seasons, the JHR Developments driver didn’t put a wheel wrong with a faultless performance – seeing off a late charge from Team Pyro’s Josh Files (Norwich) by 0.3 seconds.

The initial challenge to Pattison came in the form of a two-pronged attack from Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch) and Jake Giddings (Wisbech). Hodgetts, at the wheel of his KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria-run Clio, made a sensational start from sixth on the grid to move into third and he then grabbed second from Giddings at the complex.

Pattison, although only just ahead, looked perfectly in control during the opening laps as Hodgetts worked hard to keep the ever-present Finesse Motorsport car of Giddings behind. On the fifth tour at the chicane though, contact between the second and third placed men led to Hodgetts running across the grass into the barriers and also delayed Giddings.

This enabled Files – who had to battle through following a bad start – to assume second place and although reeling in Pattison during the second half of the race, he wasn’t quite able to force the required mistake.

“I could see Hodgetts and Giddings was going to end in tears, and it did!”, reflected Pattison, “That gave me some nice breathing space, I could see Josh [Files] catching me later on but, if I’m honest, I thought if he caught me there was a big gap to third so second place would have done me.

“I wanted to get back on the podium as quickly as possible, but to get my first pole this weekend and then bang in a win straight away is incredible. In the two years I’ve been away, I think I’ve calmed down – I’m not quite as angry as I was before! That seems to have paid off.”

Files commented: “I got another bad start, so we need to work on those, but we got back from sixth to second so I’m happy with that. There was no point making silly moves on Lee [Pattison], there’s no point making silly moves on anyone as you end up paying the price with a car in the barrier. To come away with second place is great, more good points, and that’s what we’re here to achieve.”

While Hodgetts recovered to the pits to retire, and Giddings slipped back to an eventual finish of sixth, Pyro’s Alex Morgan (Reading) sliced through the order superbly from 10th on the grid to claim the final spot on the podium – the third rostrum visit so far in his maiden saloon car campaign.

Although unable to get on terms with the lead pair, who had broken well clear, the Welshman was able to maintain a significant three second buffer over championship leader Paul Rivett (Banstead) to consolidate second in the standings and edge a point closer to the multiple title winner.

“Qualifying did not go to plan at all, we really struggled with understeer, but I knew we’d be sorted for the race”, explained Morgan, “The start was always going to be crucial, I got tagged though just off the line so I was worried that was race over straight away. The car still felt quick so I carried on and then found myself up in third – I couldn’t ask for much more from 10th on the grid.”

Rivett, who was sorely disappointed to have only qualified a very uncharacteristic 13th on the grid, made tremendous progress and battled through into the top four shortly after mid-distance. Josh Cook (Bristol) pressurised the Names.co.uk/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver during the closing stages but the JHR racer had to settle for fifth, just 0.2 seconds shy at the flag.

Behind Giddings in sixth, James Colburn (Worthing) was the best of the Westbourne Motorsport contingent in seventh and he had to work hard to keep Pyro’s Ash Hand (Nuneaton) at bay. Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) and Jordan Stilp (Potterspury) rounded out the top 10 for Westbourne.

By finishing in the outright top three, Pattison was ineligible to claim the Masters Cup victory so reigning class champion Simon Belcher (Swindon) took his first success of the year in 13th position overall. No such ruling applies in the Graduate Cup though, so Files earned his third straight class victory there.

Total Control Racing’s Rob Smith (Telford), who had a heavy excursion at Goodwood in qualifying, was able to take part in the race after some sensational work by the TCR mechanics to repair his badly damaged Clio. He raced through from 19th on the grid into the top 12, finishing just 0.2 seconds behind Pyro’s James Nutbrown and only 0.1 Seconds clear of Belcher in a great scrap.

KX Racing’s Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) meanwhile, another casualty of qualifying, was unable to participate in round five. So severe was the damage to his Clio, the second year racer will also be forced to miss round six tomorrow, Sunday, 5th May.

Tomorrow’s televised race will get underway at 12.40 and will be broadcast live across the UK on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, with the addition of live online streaming at www.itv.com/btcc

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 Rd5):
1st Paul Rivett, 138pts; 2nd Alex Morgan, 126pts; 3rd Josh Files, 122pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd5):
1st Team Pyro, 243pts; 2nd Westbourne Motorsport, 186pts; 3rd Names.co.uk/SVE, 134pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd5):
1st Josh Files, 138pts; 2nd James Colburn, 128pts; 3rd Jake Giddings, 109pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd5):
1st Graham Field, 122pts; 2nd Simon Belcher, 116pts; 3rd Finlay Crocker, 114pts