Irish racer David Dickenson (Wicklow) got his Michelin Clio Cup Race Series campaign off to an excellent start at Rockingham today, Sunday, 6th April, with victory during a drama-filled opening round of the campaign and third place in round two – earning the Team Pyro driver a 13 point lead.
Fellow Clio returnee Mike Robinson (Surbiton) was the star of race two, leading from lights to flag for Total Control Racing on the team’s maiden weekend in the Race Series, to bounce back strongly from a luckless driveshaft failure earlier in the day. The win was his first ever in Clios.
In the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series, privateer Jake Honour (Melksham) converted pole position for both races into impressive wins and also set the fastest lap in round two – he ended the day with an eight point lead at the top of the Road Series standings.
Before race one had even begun, Robinson and TCR team-mate Andy Jordan (Bridgnorth) were unable to assume second and third on the grid – Robinson’s driveshaft broke before leaving the pits and then the VVT sensor in Jordan’s engine popped out.
Leaving Dickenson on pole position with fourth placed qualifier, and Pyro team-mate, Ollie Pidgley (Salisbury) his closest opposition, the former made a clean getaway to lead through Turn One but as the field headed through Deene Hairpin more drama unfolded.
Contact in the tightly bunched pack to the Finesse Motorsport-run Clio of Pete Bennett (Blundeston) ultimately led to suspension damage which eventually resulted in his retirement on lap six. Then, at Yentwood, a tangle between Pidgley and Luke Herbert (Chichester) eliminated both.
After a stunning start to his first ever Clio race, privateer Paul Streather (Hinckley) climbed from fifth into second mid-lap and on the run to Brook Chicane he challenged Dickenson successfully for the lead with a great pass. The Safety Car then appeared on lap three due to the lap one incident.
The action resumed a lap later with Streather, Dickenson and Westbourne Motorsport’s Jacques Mizzi – up from seventh on the grid – nose to tail. Setting fastest lap pace, Streather impressed but a slight mistake under braking for Deene on lap five dropped him out of the lead.
On lap nine, second placed Mizzi lost his chance of a deserved maiden Clio podium after spinning into the barriers at the exit of Chapman. Triggering the appearance of the Safety Car again, the race concluded under caution with Dickenson taking the win and fastest lap.
“I was shocked at the start when I looked over and Mike [Robinson] wasn’t there and then [Andy] Jordan pulled off before the start too”, said the race one winner, “Paul [Streather] got past me with a great move and I sat behind him for a few laps, put the pressure on and he out-braked himself into the first corner. It’s never nice winning under red flags, but I was kind of happy to in the end!”
With the result taken back to lap nine, Dickenson won by 4.6 seconds from SV Racing’s Tommy Ostgaard, Streather, Sam Randon (Ashbourne), 20Ten Racing’s Brett Lidsey (Dartford) and his rookie team-mate Tom Butler (Allestree, Derby). Post-race, however, Ostgaard was excluded due to having incorrect rear tyres – handing Streather second and Randon a podium on his Race Series debut.
“I never, ever thought I’d lead my first race in Clios on the budget we’ve got”, said a delighted Streather, “Running the car myself, with friends and family helping out, it’s a lot of hard work – I’m engineering the car, driving the car, doing all of the checks. Before the weekend I would have thought a podium was impossible!”
Determined to make amends in round two, Robinson grabbed the lead from pole-starter Dickenson before Turn One thanks to a great launch and the duo were joined by Herbert – now receiving engineering support from Westbourne – who rocketed into third from seventh on the grid.
With nothing to split the top three, rain started to fall around halfway through and Robinson was able to begin edging away as Dickenson was challenged hard for second by Herbert. On the last lap the breakthrough came, Herbert moving ahead at Tarzan, but a tap from Dickenson’s car as the duo diced into Brook Chicane enabled the round one winner to get back ahead.
Officials later handed Dickenson a two second time penalty to reverse the result, placing Herbert in the runner-up spot. Robinson, meanwhile, went on to claim his maiden Clio Cup victory by a margin of 4.2 seconds with Pidgley taking fourth and the fastest lap after a sterling drive.
“I don’t think we could have had a worse start to the season in race one, not making it out of the pitlane onto the grid – to say it was disappointing was an understatement”, said Robinson, “The win in the second race kind of made up for what happened, it definitely puts us back on track. I knew we had the speed, knew we had the pace and I think David [Dickenson] and I will be fighting all year”
Jordan held off Streather for fifth place while Ostgaard was a strong seventh, the Norwegian slicing his way back through the order after a sluggish start to the race dropped him to the tail. Lidsey took eighth, having run as high as fifth early on, ahead of Randon and Andy Wilkins (Harpenden).
Honour makes great start to season with Road Series double
In the opening Michelin Clio Cup Road Series category encounter, Jake Honour never looked unduly under threat and initially led circuit racing rookie Luke Pinder (Shipley) before Nic Harrison (Stretton, Burton-on-Trent) moved into second prior to the first Safety Car period in his CGH Imports.com Clio.
Westbourne Motorsport’s Anton Spires (Milton Keynes), who started second on the Road Series grid, was elbowed back early on but battled his way back through to second ahead of Harrison with a good pass at Deene on the lap four re-start.
Honour’s significant 2.5 second lead was eroded during the closing stages by Spires, who set the fastest Road Series lap on his debut with a time of 1m41.827 seconds (68.58mph), but the Jade Developments supported racer had done enough to get his season off to a winning start.
In round two Honour was again challenged hardest by Spires and when the rain arrived the pole-starter began to struggle with his tyres. Pinder had held second early on but was forced to retire on lap nine, leaving Spires to close to within 0.8 seconds of Honour at the flag with Harrison third.
“I couldn’t have hoped for a better weekend, two race wins and two pole positions”, commented Honour, “It wasn’t easy, the Safety Car came out in the first race and there were a lot of collisions which we had to avoid. Race two started dry but then it began to rain, I lost a lot of grip and Anton [Spires] was chasing me really hard – I had to really drive to keep Anton back.”
Oulton Park in Cheshire will host rounds three and four of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Road Series six weeks from now on Saturday, 17th May.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo and Safety Devices. The Michelin Clio Cup Road Series is also backed by DNA Tuning.
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series Driver Standings (after Rd2):
1st David Dickenson, 59pts; 2nd Paul Streather, 46pts; 3rd Sam Randon, 37pts; 4th Brett Lidsey, 36pts; 5th Mike Robinson, 32pts; 6th Tom Butler, 30pts
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Driver Standings (after Rd2):
1st Jake Honour, 66pts; 2nd Anton Spires, 58pts; 3rd Nic Harrison, 50pts