24/06/2016

Six out of ten: Croft statistics show UK Clio Cup’s different winners in a season record could topple in 2016

The Renault UK Clio Cup’s reputation for producing more potential future stars just kept on delivering at Croft as our statistics from the event reveal.
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Max Coates’s maiden victory in the championship was headline news but that shouldn’t overshadow the performances of others. So we’ll come on to Max later…

To qualifying, first of all, and Team Pyro’s David Dickenson was in superb form with best-ever performances of second and fourth for the two starting grids. Equally, team-mate Josh Price's second for race one at Croft was a further improvement on the two thirds he'd had at Thruxton.

Sunday’s race two grid also stood out in terms of how close it was at the front. Indeed the 0.002s margin between Mike Bushell (on pole position) and Price in second equals the closest gap previously recorded between the top two in a UK Clio Cup qualifying session (Adam Bonham to Josh Files, Thruxton, 2012).

Furthermore, 0.038s covered the top five – surely a record on its own. The nearest we can find since records began in 2000 is the 0.098s that covered the top seven in qualifying at Knockhill in 2004…

The man on pole that day was WDE’s Paul Rivett, just as he was for the first of Croft’s race last weekend. The UK Clio Cup’s Croft qualifying record is 1m31452s, set by Dave Newsham in 2010. Rivett missed it by 0.006s (and reckoned the current ‘track limits’ rules – considerably tighter than six years ago – was costing him around four tenths of a second per lap).

Rivett’s pole for Saturday’s race was the 35th of his UK Clio Cup career and he turned that into a lights-to-flag victory, too – his 45th win in the championship. Behind, Coates gave himself and the Ciceley Motorsport team a best result to date with second place. How things would change on Sunday…  Daniel Rowbottom also had something to cheer in addition to his mid-week wedding with a personal best of fifth in the same race.

So… P3 at Oulton Park, P2 in race one at Croft – Coates completed the countdown in race two at the North Yorkshire circuit with P1 for his and Ciceley’s first victory in the championship. His race win owed much to some great race craft – he’d started from fifth on the grid – and, it has to be said, a slice of good fortune when Rivett, looking good for a second win of the weekend, cruelly slowed with car dramas when out in front. But you make your own luck, as they say, and when the opportunity came Coates made sure he was perfectly placed to pick up the cudgels …

Having started from pole for the fifth time in six races Bushell went on to finish P2 for his sixth top-three finish in a row. His respective tallies now are: career poles 12; career podiums 19. P3 for Price was his third podium finish to date (and all achieved in the last six races). Rivett’s consolation was the race’s fastest lap (the 31st of his career)…

Notably Coates becomes the sixth different winner in the opening ten rounds – a statistic that again re-enforces just how competitive the UK Clio Cup has become in the past 18 months.

It’s a scenario last seen in 2013 – six winners from the first ten races, which became a record eight by the end of the year. In 2016, however, there are still eight races to go whereas in 2013 there were just the six. Adding to the ‘shades of 2013’ theme, the record pole position margin mentioned above of 0.002s was also set that same year…

The six-winners-in-ten-races statistics means that even as early as the mid-way stage of the season we can say it is highly unlikely that Newsham’s 12 wins in a season record from 2010 will be beaten in 2016 – only JamSport’s Ant Whorton-Eales, with a stunning five wins, now has a chance of toppling it but to do so would require him to win all remaining eight races on the calendar (two apiece at Snetterton, Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch Grand Prix). Surely not?

Finally, a quick glance at the points table reveals seven drivers so far in 2016 have managed to finish every race in the points. Take a bow Messrs Whorton-Eales, Bushell, Rivett, Coates, Pattison, Streather and Jackson! Rory Collingbourne has also finished every race but a costly spin at Brands Hatch meant he finished outside the points-scoring top 20 there…