Teams from the burgeoning Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre have welcomed moves by category organisers to introduce a 45-minute ‘Enduro’ into the upcoming Autumn Cup event at Rockingham in November, the first ever endurance-style race in the UK exclusively for Renault Clios.
After a highly successful maiden season for the new series, which concluded last weekend at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, category administrator the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) and promoter Grovewood Sport are aiming to keep the impressive momentum building through the winter.
For the Autumn Cup event on 16th/17th November, where the Michelin Clio Cup Series will run alongside the Protyre Formula Renault Championship, competitors will race to the regular 20-minute ‘sprint’ format on the Saturday with the 45-minute encounter set to take place on the Sunday.
Dependant on the success of the ‘enduro’, longer races could be introduced into the main season in 2014 when the series becomes a fully-fledged championship. At that point, the two main classes will grow into their own individual categories – the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series, for third generation racing Clios, and the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series, for converted Clio Renaultsport roadcars.
“An enduro race obviously gives drivers more track time, that will help build their confidence and it’s better value for money, so I think it is a very good idea”, said Team Pyro’s Mark Hunt, “They used to do this kind of thing in Italy, race one was half an hour and race two was 45 minutes – I really think it can work well in the Michelin Clio Cup Series.
“It should be attractive to a lot of drivers and I think it’ll bring in people like those who are in the Trackday Trophy at the minute. They’ve been doing longer races already so this should attract them, for me it can only be a positive for the series.”
With the new 1.6-litre turbo-charged Renault Clio Cup racecar set to arrive in the sister Renault UK Clio Cup next year, an influx of existing 2.0-litre Clios is expected to significantly boost numbers in the Michelin Clio Cup Series in 2014.
Additionally, organisers are keen to see the Road Series aspect of the category develop and one of the biggest supporters of that class from the outset, SWB Motorsport, has also welcomed the added track time an endurance race will bring.
“We’ve had no experience of running a longer race format but it sounds good”, said team principal Simon Baldry, “I think the Autumn Cup as a whole is a brilliant idea, it gives us a chance to try and get people involved in the Series who have maybe sat on the sidelines this year to see what happened. Drivers always want as much track time as they can, I’m sure the format will be popular.”
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Safety Devices, Mark Fish Motorsport, The Lubricant Consultancy and NGK Spark Plugs.