Rounds seven and eight of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Michelin Clio Cup Road Series take place at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this weekend, 26th/27th July, where both categories – as at Oulton Park earlier in the year – will have standalone races for only the second time.
Ordinarily running as a class within the main championship, the Road Series will benefit from its own individual races at the 1.2-mile Kent track with Anton Spires (Milton Keynes) the dominant force going into the weekend at the wheel of his race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197. The Westbourne Motorsport driver heads into the second half of the campaign with a huge 53-point lead.
Spires’ chances of further increasing his advantage a few days from now have been boosted with the knowledge his chief title rival, privateer runner Jake Honour (Devizes), is sitting out the fourth event of 2014 with his Clio currently in the process of being rebuilt after damage sustained last time out.
The Road Series pace-setter’s main challenger, therefore, is likely to be podium regular Nic Harrison (Stretton), who is third in the standings and just a couple of points adrift of Honour. Top lady racer Sarah Franklin (Kettering) is fourth in the championship and will have some female company at the weekend with the return of SWB Motorsport’s Jessica Hawkins (Chatham) for her first race of 2014.
In the headline Michelin Clio Cup Race Series, which features 2.0-litre normally aspirated third generation thoroughbred racing Clios, the story at the top of the championship isn’t too dissimilar with Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Surbiton) carrying a 25-point cushion into Brands Hatch.
With three race victories and two other podiums from the six races contested up to now, the former Renault UK Clio Cup racer goes into his ‘home’ event hoping to extend his lead over the equally rapid David Dickenson (Wicklow), the Irishman a double winner in the Race Series with Team Pyro.
Third in the championship is impressive rookie Paul Streather (Hinckley) who, running with his own privately entered team, has made a huge impression in his first season in Clios. Taking a second place finish in his first ever Race Series encounter, the former MG Trophy Champion bagged his second podium of the campaign in round six at Donington Park.
Luke Herbert (Chichester), who has encountered some misfortune this season, is fourth in the title race and the Westbourne driver will be bidding to add to the two podiums he has achieved up to now. Fellow podium finishers Sam Randon (Ashbourne) and Norwegian driver Tommy Ostgaard, both competing for SV Racing, round out the coveted top six - Ostgaard, though, will miss Brands.
Last time out at Donington, Renault Clio newcomer Brett Smith (Wellingborough) made a massive impact on his front-wheel drive debut with a truly sensational performance for Pyro – second place to Robinson in his maiden race, followed by victory in round six. The son of former British Touring Car Championship, and current British GT Championship racer, Jeff Smith will be one to watch.
Making a welcome return to action at Brands Hatch, having been forced to sit out the previous event after his Clio was written-off in an accident at Oulton Park in May, is Pete Bennett (Blundeston). The Finesse Motorsport driver, who starred on his car racing debut at Brands in the Race Series last September with a podium in his maiden encounter, is hungrier than ever to make a rostrum return.
Likewise, TCR’s Andy Jordan (Bridgnorth) will be determined to be back in the thick of the podium battle after a torrid weekend at Donington. Contact, not of his making, in the first race at the foot of Craner Curves resulted in a huge excursion and a heavily damaged Clio which couldn’t be repaired in time for the following day’s encounter. He was a double race winner at Brands last season.
Michelin Clio Cup Road Series qualifying will take place at 09.30 on Saturday, 26th July, with the first race of the weekend following at 14.35. On Sunday, 27th July, the second Road Series encounter will take place at 11.05. For the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series, qualifying starts at 10.35 on Saturday with round seven getting underway at 15.45. Round eight is scheduled for 15.00 on Sunday.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo and Safety Devices.
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series Driver Standings (after Rd6):
1st Mike Robinson, 154pts; 2nd David Dickenson, 129pts; 3rd Paul Streather, 117pts
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Driver Standings (after Rd6):
1st Anton Spires, 194pts; 2nd Jake Honour, 141pts; 3rd Nic Harrison, 139pts