Herbert sets sights on Clio series as springboard to UK championship

Budget-restricted Renault UK Clio Cup aspirant Luke Herbert is aiming to use success in the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre as a springboard into the high-profile sister championship after, today, Friday, 15th March, confirming his participation in the newly established one-make saloon car class.

Herbert, who won the 2012 Ma5da MX5 Cup title and was subsequently ranked as the best national sportscar series racer in Motorsport News’ yearly round-up, was originally all-set to race in the British Touring Car Championship-supporting Renault UK Clio Cup in 2013 with KX Akademy funding.

After being unable to secure the remainder of the required budget though, the 23-year-old from Chichester had to forego his place on the KX Energy-backed driver development programme and has had to pursue other options for the coming season.

Now, having purchased the car campaigned in last year’s Renault UK Clio Cup by Mark Tilbury under the Silver Fox Racing banner, Herbert is preparing for his first season of front-wheel drive action in the BARC administered Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre – and is eyeing success from the off.

“One week ago I wasn’t going to be racing this year, but we managed to get the money to buy Mark Tilbury’s car and we’ve got the chance to get involved with the Clio Cup Series”, said Herbert, “I think by the end of this year it’ll really have taken off and if it becomes a full championship in 2014, I know it’ll be really popular. It’s definitely come at the right time, especially with the economy so tough.

“The idea is to race in the BARC series, try and raise the funds to do the last two rounds of Clio Cup UK and then make the step-up into the main championship next year. Last year things couldn’t have been much better for me, winning the MX5 championship and getting the KX backing. I worked so hard to try and get the money we needed for Clio Cup UK, but we just couldn’t achieve it.”

With two months still remaining until the opening race meeting of the inaugural Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre, attracting one of the country’s most promising young saloon car racers to the category in the headline ‘Expert’ class is a real coup.

“Having a driver as talented as Luke join us for our first season is absolutely fantastic, it adds a lot of kudos”, commented Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre promoter Simon North, “He’s more than proven his ability in rear-wheel drive over the last couple of years and, although the Clio will be a fresh challenge, I’m sure he’ll be one of the drivers to beat.”

Running with backing from long-time sponsor SRC Recycling Ltd, Herbert is relishing the chance to race a thoroughbred Clio Cup car this year and says competing in the new BARC series is the best move for his career at this stage.

“I think if we had tried to jump straight into Renault UK Clio Cup with a lack of testing, we’d have been playing catch-up against drivers with full budgets so this is the best decision”, added Herbert, “It’ll be a perfect way to get used to the car, learn the front-wheel drive and hopefully prepare well for a move into the UK championship next year.”

Snetterton in Norfolk will host the first two races of the 2013 Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre over the weekend 11th/12th May.

Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Safety Devices, Monster Sport Europe and The Lubricant Consultancy.