Podiums plus miles, laps led stats further proof of wide open 2016 Renault UK Clio Cup season

Did you know that the miles covered so far during the 2016 Renault UK Clio Cup season add up to the same distance by road from Brands Hatch to Croft? Likewise that only twice in ten races has the safety car been required. Read on…
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It’s ironic perhaps that Brands Hatch to Croft should figure here – it is after all where the current season started and also came to its mid-season break just last month.

The ten races to date (two apiece on the Brands Hatch Indy, Donington National, Thruxton, Oulton Park Island and Croft circuits) tot up to 251 miles.

It’s perhaps no surprise to learn the driver who’s been out in front for most of those is current championship leader Ant Whorton-Eales (86.6) followed by his two closest challengers, Mike Bushell (55) and Paul Rivett (37.6).

‘AWE’ is also ahead on laps led: of 134 he has crossed the start-finish line in first place on 40 occasions. Again Bushell is next up on 24 (including 12 at Thruxton where a time penalty cost him a win) and then Paul Streather on 23 (for his victory in Brands Hatch’s elongated opening round).

Elongated because the race required six laps behind the Clio Renault Sport 220 Trophy safety car to clear Daniel Rowbottom’s and Dan Zelos’s ‘beached’ cars (the original race distance of 20 laps went out to 23 – the most it can go over is three).

It is one of only two occasions the safety car has been necessary in 2016 – the other being during Thruxton’s fifth round to allow marshals to repair a barrier damaged following a crash for Zelos.

These two safety car periods equate to ten laps – 7.5 per cent of the 134 covered.

Elsewhere Donington’s third round and also the same race at Thruxton mentioned above have both been stopped short to retrieve cars stranded in potentially dangerous positions.

Will Fewkes, Renault Sport UK’s Motorsport Championship Manager commented: “Ten laps out of 134 equates to about 7.5 per cent behind the safety car which we believe to be a far lower than average percentage for a championship at this level. You also have to consider that there have only been two safety car periods in all…

“Safety cars are a part of modern-day motor sport, but to have ‘lost’ so little time due to safety car intervention is great testament to the quality of our grid and also the hard work done by Renault Sport with its drivers.

“It’s also worth noting that any safety car periods or race stoppages we’ve encountered in 2016 have been in the opening rounds when many drivers have been new to the cars and indeed one another on track. The last five rounds – race two at Thruxton and then both races at Oulton and Croft – have all run without intervention and to the full race distance.”

Meanwhile it’s also interesting to note that at the top of the table the gap between leader Whorton-Eales and second-placed Bushell – three points. ‘Interesting’ because six of Whorton-Eales’s points are bonuses scored for setting the fastest lap time in races. Three times he has managed this (two points per ‘FL’) whereas Bushell has achieved it twice for four extra points.

Five more drivers – Rivett, Max Coates, Lee Pattison, Streather and Charlie Ladell – have also got in on the act with one apiece.

When it comes to pole positions and race wins, Bushell and Whorton-Eales truly stand out with 50 per cent hit rates. Bushell has five poles; Whorton-Eales has five wins (nobody else has more than one of either).

Nine different drivers representing six different teams have achieved outright podium results in the season’s opening ten rounds: Whorton-Eales (JamSport); Bushell, Senna Proctor and Josh Price (Pyro); Rivett and Ladell (WDE); Coates (Ciceley); Pattison (Cooksport) and Streather (Finesse).

Of them it is Bushell who has accumulated the most so far with seven visits to the rostrum compared to Whorton-Eales’s six…