Burgeoning Michelin Clio Cup Series heads to Rockingham

Rockingham’s International Sportscar Circuit will host the burgeoning Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre for the first time this weekend, 10th/11th August, where Luke Herbert (Chichester) and Peter Felix (Allestree, Derby) will be the men to beat going into the fifth and sixth races of the season.

With three wins to his credit from the opening four races, a memorable double during the category curtain-raiser at Snetterton in May and a further success during the opening encounter at Croft in July, Herbert has been the dominant force up to now in both qualifying and race conditions.

Felix though, who drives for the EPM Technology/20Ten Racing squad which is owned by team-mate Darren Wilson (Newark), delivered a superb lights-to-flag win in the second Croft race to claim his maiden success in the Clio Series.

Any possible challenge Herbert had planned was thwarted fairly early in the outing after he thumped the tyre stack at the chicane, resulting in an instantaneous retirement. Wilson, meanwhile, made it a double celebration for 20Ten Racing with an excellent runner-up spot behind Felix.

Herbert, of course, will be determined to make amends at Rockingham and it won’t be any surprise if the 23-year-old Racecar Class competitor departs Northamptonshire next weekend with yet more first place silverware.

Felix and Wilson, though, will endeavour to have a say in that as will the ever-improving Brett Lidsey (Dartford), who is seeking his first podium. Father and son duo Ian and Andy Jordan (Bridgnorth), Procom Team Racing’s David Pierce (Maidstone), Scuderia Vittoria’s James Weston (Tunbridge Wells) and privateer runner Jason Tarling (Wickham Bishops) complete the Racecar Class entry.

Launching a successful new category in such a tough economic climate was never going to be an easy task, but Renault UK and the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC) placed huge importance on creating strong foundations for the Michelin Clio Cup Series in order so it would flourish.

Aside from providing a tailor-made new home for the third generation racing Clio, which is in the midst of its final season in the flagship Renault UK Clio Cup, the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre also features the incredibly important ‘Roadcar Class’. Aimed mainly at trackday enthusiasts who wish to go racing and complete motorsport novices, the class is building profile and momentum.

At present there are three race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197s on the grid, two fielded by SWB Motorsport for Norway’s Tommy Ostgaard and karting graduate Sam Randon (Ashbourne), and a further entry for total racing rookie Jake Honour (Melksham).

So far, Oslo-based Ostgaard – who is in his first year of saloon car racing after a formative career in single-seaters – has led the way with four consecutive wins. Randon too has impressed in his maiden season in cars and is getting quicker all the time, while Honour is learning his craft with aplomb.

With the Roadcar Class offering a highly cost-effective route into circuit racing, especially for those who never thought it financially attainable, organisers from the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre recently arranged for some of the UK’s top motoring journalists to get a taste of the category.

Writers from a wide range of publications, such as Autosport and Motorsport News, Auto Express, Car and Autocar, took part in a test of a road-going Clio Renaultsport 197 which has been converted to race specification by Milton Keynes-based Monster Sport Europe. All agreed the car and the category provide a very strong recipe for success.

Qualifying for race five of the inaugural Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre season will begin at 11.00 next Saturday, 10th August, with the weekend’s opening encounter starting at 14.30. On Sunday, 11th August, race six qualifying will get underway at 10.30 with the 20-minute contest itself following at 13.45.

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.