19/01/2017

Cooksport Clio survives late dramas to complete Dubai 24 Hours

British team Cooksport demonstrated the Clio Cup race car’s prowess in long-distance circuit racing by taking one of its models to a fine second place in class in its first attempt at the recent 24 Hours of Dubai endurance race.
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The car was raced in 2016’s Renault UK Clio Cup by Lee Pattison but as soon as the season ended (mid-October) Cooksport’s mechanics set about stripping and modifying it in their Bristol workshops.

Three weeks later it was shipped to Dubai where on mid-January it raced against an entry of 90 other cars. Ultimately it finished 55th and a fine second in class – ahead even of some more powerful GT and sportscars.

“Mechanically the Clio Cup car never missed a beat,” commented Team Principal and British Touring Car star Josh Cook – it really stood up to being pushed consistently hard not just throughout the 24 hours but also all the practice sessions leading up to it. In total during the event we’ve covered 1700km of running.

“We were also pleased with the level of preparation we’d gone to and that played out when we saw others starting to have problems.

“A lot of thought had to go into how we’d make the car – built essentially for much shorter sprint type races – stand up to the punishment of a 24-hour event which is where our own modifications came in.

“Essentially these included a larger intercooler, Cooksport-developed suspension, endurance racing brakes, a much larger fuel tank and additional driver cooling and hydration systems. We also re-designed the front bumper assembly to include fog lights so as to minimise the effect on aerodynamics.”

There was one major scare, however… With just three hours left the car was looking certain of second in class thanks to the efforts behind the wheel of Cook, Alex Sedgwick, Jon Maybin, Shayne Deegan and Ollie Cook.

Cook explained: “Jon was at the wheel but got badly squeezed by one of the GT cars and was pushed into a barrier. It did quite a bit of damage to the front suspension and bodywork. Incredibly though the car was quickly recovered and returned to our pit garage for repairs – just 25 minutes later it was back out on track with Alex at the wheel and he was able to bring it to the finish.

“The last time I raced a Clio Cup car was in 2014 when I finished second in the UK championship and the driving style for something like this is very different. You have to push but at the same time be aware that the faster GT cars are going to lap you fairly regularly – they are 20 seconds a lap faster.

“So a lot of it is knowing what’s coming up behind you and positioning the car so they pass you in a place that causes minimum delay to you. Unfortunately, as Jon found out, you still need the other driver to co-operate!

“It was an incredible experience. We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into – this was the first 24-hour race for the team so it was a big learning curve but we and the Clio Cup car came through with flying colours.”