Title battle red hot as Oulton Park welcomes Clio Cup

Only three points separate Paul Rivett (Banstead) and Josh Files (Norwich) at the top of the Renault UK Clio Cup standings as the all-action saloon car championship prepares to visit Oulton Park Island Circuit next weekend, 8th/9th June, for rounds seven and eight of a fantastically competitive season.

As one of the country’s most challenging tracks, the picturesque Cheshire venue is always a popular stop on the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship tour for competitors and spectators alike. With five winners from the first six races, the Renault UK Clio Cup is in the midst of one of its most competitive ever years and the best of action is certain on its annual visit to the North West.

While three-time champion Rivett still managed to retain the series lead at Thruxton four weeks ago, the Names.co.uk/Stancombe Vehicle Engineering driver did endure an uncharacteristically difficult weekend. In contrast, a double podium for Files enabled the Team Pyro driver to pull 10 points back on his rival to set up the potential for a mouth-watering battle between the pair next weekend.

Although there has been a lengthy break since the Thruxton races, Files has been keeping busy on track with a dovetailed racing programme in the Eurocup Clio series. Taking an outstanding victory on his debut at Imola, Italy, it also marked the Pyro driver’s first competitive run at the wheel of a brand new fourth generation turbo-powered Clio – the car which will be raced in the UK from 2014.

Files and Barwell-based Team Pyro will be back in action in the Eurocup this weekend, 1st/2nd June, at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium before turning attention back to the UK series where the East Anglian driver is still seeking his elusive first victory on home soil.

Thruxton produced two new 2013 race winners, JHR Developments’ Lee Pattison (Liversedge) and KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria’s Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch), and they will both be aiming to carry their great momentum forward into the upcoming Oulton Park rounds.

Pattison, in particular, enjoyed an outstanding weekend in Hampshire – only his second event back in the Renault UK Clio Cup after a couple of years away – and he added to his round five victory with second position behind Hodgetts in round six.

Pattison’s tremendous performances rightly earned him the ‘BuyOils.co.uk Driver of the Event’ accolade and despite missing the opening two rounds of the season at Brands Hatch, the JHR driver is already in joint-seventh place in the championship – tied on points with Jake Giddings (Wisbech).

Alex Morgan (Reading) and James Colburn (Worthing), the year’s two other race winners, will arrive at Oulton Park third and fourth in the standings respectively. Morgan, in his first season of saloon car action, has been a consistent front-runner all year and is just 12 points shy of team-mate Files.

Colburn, meanwhile, is another 16 points adrift and will be determined to return to the podium for the first time since the curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch. Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells), who from Oulton Park will be competing with KX Racing after a switch from Colburn’s Westbourne Motorsport squad, is fifth in the championship while JHR’s Josh Cook (Bristol) currently rounds out the top six.

As well as being second in the overall title race Files heads the Graduate Cup class standings by 20 points from Colburn. In the Masters Cup, reigning class champion Simon Belcher (Swindon) moved to the top of the standings at Thruxton following his first two wins of 2013.

He carries a four point lead over Graham Field (Southwell, Nottinghamshire) to Oulton with Finlay Crocker (Bathgate, West Lothian) just five points further adrift. Crocker returns to UK action off the back of realising his long-held dream of racing at the Nurburgring-Nordschleife in Germany a couple of weeks ago, in the ADAC Zurich 24 Hour Race-supporting Clio Cup Bohemia encounter.

After pre-event practice at Oulton Park on Friday, 7th June, qualifying for rounds seven and eight will take place at 11.00 on Saturday, 8th June, with the opening race of the weekend beginning at 16.30. On Sunday, 9th June, round eight will get underway at approximately 15.15 and will be screened live on ITV4, ITV4 HD and streamed online 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 Rd6):
1st Paul Rivett, 150pts; 2nd Josh Files, 147pts; 3rd Alex Morgan, 135pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd6):
1st Team Pyro, 282pts; 2nd Westbourne Motorsport, 220pts; 3rd Scuderia Vittoria, 181pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd6):
1st Josh Files, 170pts; 2nd James Colburn, 150pts; 3rd Jake Giddings, 125pts

Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd6):
1st Simon Belcher, 148pts; 2nd Graham Field, 144pts; 3rd Finlay Crocker, 139pts