Michelin Clio Cup Race Series podium finisher Pete Bennett (Blundeston) has confirmed his welcome return to action for the start of the second half of the season, at Brands Hatch just over a week from now, having been forced to sit out the previous rounds at Donington Park.
Following a multi-car tangle at the start of round four at Oulton Park back in May, the NGK Spark Plugs and Oil Consultants-backed racer found himself penned-in against the pit wall and the ensuing contact rendered his third generation Clio Cup car a write-off.
Without enough time to prepare a rebuilt car for the Donington event just two weeks later, Bennett was forced to miss the championship’s visit to Leicestershire so is hungry to make a successful, and overdue, return to action with the Finesse Motorsport squad.
“Neil and Jake Giddings have done a fantastic job in re-shelling the Clio ready for Brands”, said Bennett, “We took the car to Snetterton last week for a shakedown and it performed faultlessly. It actually felt different to my last Clio with the new shell, but in a positive way which was a bonus. We also tried a new set-up which worked well, but we’re not sure if we’ll run it at Brands.
“We’re going there with good expectation but under no illusion with the quality I'm racing against, there are some excellent drivers on the grid this year of mixed ages and experience. The support Finesse has given me has been faultless and isn’t reflected in my championship position. I can't wait to get back in the car for Brands – with a bit of luck we can get back on the podium.”
Notably, the Kent venue’s 1.2-mile Indy Circuit was the scene of Bennett’s outstanding car racing debut in the Clio Cup Series last September where the then 47-year-old stunned the paddock with a podium finish in his maiden race. He almost made it two rostrums from two starts, but his hopes were ended by cam-belt failure when running in second position.
Frustratingly, the Suffolk driver’s first full season this year has been blighted by severe misfortune from the outset and Bennett has just one race finish to his credit – an impressive top six result in round three at Oulton Park from the back of the grid, having suffered a puncture in qualifying.
“I’ve had some bad luck this season”, he reflected, “I was forced off at Rockingham in race one and suffered broken suspension, then we had the puncture in qualifying at Oulton which put me at the back of the grid for both races. I managed to climb up and finish sixth in race one there, though, which showed I had the pace to stay with the front-runners.
“It’s a fantastic, competitive championship giving very high calibre racing at club level costs. It’s an excellent stepping stone for young drivers to advance their careers and somewhere for older drivers to have some serious fun. I can’t wait to be back racing but it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Neil and Jake at FML and my sponsors NGK Spark Plugs and Oil Consultants.”
Rounds seven and eight of the 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series will take place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit next weekend, 26th/27th July.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo and Safety Devices.