Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre front-runner Andy Jordan (Bridgnorth) and Roadcar Series class competitor Sam Randon (Ashbourne) each raced to impressive double victories at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit over the weekend, 21st/22nd September, during the 2013 season finale.
Becoming a first time winner with a thoroughly dominant performance during a mildly rain-affected Race Seven of the series on Saturday, privateer runner Jordan delivered an even more commanding victory in Race Eight on Sunday afternoon to cap a truly memorable race meeting.
“It’s been a great weekend”, said Jordan, “The car felt good in both races, Saturday was a bit tricky with the conditions being a bit slippery at the start but it was great to win – I would have liked more of a battle but I was still happy. I got a really good start to the second race, then just drove away.”
Randon, meanwhile, steered his SWB Motorsport-run Clio Renaultsport 197 to a maiden ‘Roadcar Series’ class success in the opening encounter to impressively seal his first win since graduating from karts at the start of the year. Bringing an end to team-mate Tommy Ostgaard’s streak of six wins, Randon then claimed an unchallenged second victory on Sunday to end the season on a real high.
“I’ve been working so hard all year to beat Tommy [Ostgaard], he’s been the man to beat all season and now we’ve managed to do it”, said a thrilled Randon, “I couldn’t have asked for much more this weekend, I’ve done more than I set out to achieve this year so I’m really happy about that.”
Aside from Jordan and Randon’s exploits, the final weekend of the inaugural Michelin Clio Cup Series brought no less than four new faces onto the overall podium. Novice racer Pete Bennett (Lowestoft) starred in the first contest for Finesse Motorsport with second position on his debut while Procom Team Racing’s David Pierce (Larkfield) claimed his maiden podium in the category with third place.
In the second outing the youngest driver in the series, Team Pyro’s Ollie Pidgley (Salisbury), fought back from a troublesome start to climb the podium in third place overall on his first weekend since moving out of kart racing. The 16-year-old was just 0.9 seconds shy of second placed Brett Lidsey (Dartford) at the finish, the latter achieving his long-awaited first series podium on home soil.
Michelin Clio Cup Series enjoys successful end to inaugural season
With a rich mix of established Clio Cup Series competitors, several rookies and an appearance from Autosport journalist Glenn Freeman (West Molesey) in the Roadcar Series class – the first circuit race for the Monster Sport Europe squad – the final weekend of the season proved to be a real highlight.
Jordan started Saturday’s race from pole position after a dominant performance in qualifying, heading the times a full 0.6 seconds clear of ultra-impressive newcomer Bennett. Lidsey secured third on the grid while karting graduate Pidgley was a fantastic fourth fastest.
Just ahead of the green flag formation lap, light rain began to fall and although not developing into anything more significant it did make the first couple of laps tricky. Jordan made a good start to lead through Paddock Hill Bend from Bennett who just fended off a very rapid Lidsey.
On the run up to Druids, Lidsey attacked for second but at Graham Hill Bend he slid wide which enabled Bennett to retake second. Another of the debutants, 20Ten Racing team manager Simon Hunt (Derby), moved into third with Pierce fourth and David Thomas (Westerham) fifth.
As the chasing pack jostled for position, Jordan scampered off into the distance and by the end of the opening lap he was already 2.3 seconds clear. Unchallenged throughout, the privateer runner eventually took the chequered flag on lap 22 roughly five seconds to the good.
Bennett remained in the runner-up spot for the duration and got quicker and quicker as the race wore on. Trading fastest laps with Jordan, the Finesse driver – debuting at 47-years-of-age – went on to set the best of the race with a time of 53.484 seconds (81.30mph) on the penultimate tour.
“I didn’t know what to expect this weekend”, commented Bennett, “It wasn’t until testing on Friday when I could judge where I was in the pack – these Clios are completely different to the karts I’ve raced. It was difficult for all the drivers with the changing conditions, I hadn’t done any running at all in the rain before so to be on the podium in my first race, I couldn’t have asked for better.”
Third place overall was settled at the beginning of lap six into Paddock when Pierce managed to get alongside Hunt, thanks to good drive out of Clark Curve, before pulling clear. Thomas and Lidsey reeled-in Hunt during the final third of the race but another moment for Lidsey, on lap 15, spoiled his hopes and he settled for sixth. Thomas, in fifth, was just 0.3 seconds behind Hunt at the flag.
“It was slippery on the green flag lap, you could feel the car was skidding when you warmed the tyres and brakes up”, commented Pierce, “I just tried to stay out of trouble at the start, it was quite tricky and we had a few spots of rain again in the middle of the race. I’ve had my ups and downs this year but overall I’m happy with how it’s gone, it’s a great series and I’ve had the time of my life.”
In the Roadcar Series, Ostgaard started from pole position but it was team-mate Randon who ended the first lap in the lead of the class and despite some early pressure he produced an assured drive to conclude the encounter with a richly deserved first win. Ostgaard managed to maintain second while Freeman usurped Jake Honour (Melksham) for third in class after an entertaining scrap.
In Race Eight, Jordan again dominated but this time by an even greater 11 second margin after 22 laps. Never threatened, he looked set to again head-home Bennett until the latter was forced into retirement on the penultimate lap when his Clio lost all power. This enabled Lidsey to cap a strong race with his maiden podium in second position.
“As Brands is my home track, we only live 10 minutes away, I wanted to do well”, said Lidsey, “I was devastated after the off in Saturday’s race, so I was determined to come back and put that right in race two and we did. I’m really pleased, it’s been a great weekend and it’s a great series.”
Pidgley battled back brilliantly from a sluggish start to take third in the end, mounting a fantastic recovery from the tail of the Racecar class to scythe his way back into contention. Impressively, the youngster also posted the fastest lap of the race on the final tour to underline his clear potential.
“The pace we had in testing on Friday was surprising, we didn’t think we’d be anywhere near that as I’d only had half a day at the track last week”, commented Pidgley, “It’s been a strong first weekend for us, I’m really pleased with how my first races in cars have gone.”
Pierce finished the second encounter in fourth ahead of Thomas and Hunt while Randon again won the Roadcar Series, this time from lights-to-flag after starting on the class pole, ahead of Autosport’s Freeman who earned the ‘Driver of the Event’ award after a strong maiden weekend.
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.