This weekend, 5th/6th April, marks the start of the first ever full championship season for the burgeoning Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Michelin Clio Cup Road Series with the opening two rounds taking place at Rockingham in Northamptonshire.
Featuring the third generation 2.0-litre racing Clio, formerly campaigned in the blue riband Renault UK Clio Cup up until the end of last year, the headline Race Series is set to be fiercely contested with a fantastic mix of experienced Clio drivers and exciting category newcomers.
Luke Herbert (Chichester), last season’s dominant force in the inaugural series of races with five wins from six starts, returns for a title bid at the wheel of his SRC Recycling entered Clio but will certainly face huge competition.
Total Control Racing, a multiple title winner in the Renault UK Clio Cup, debuts in the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series this season with Mike Robinson (Surbiton) – a past regular in the British Touring Car Championship supporting category – guaranteed to be a consistent challenger.
After emerging at the top of the timesheets during the officially timed test day at Rockingham two weeks ago, Robinson set his stall out well and he teams with the returning Andy Jordan (Bridgnorth) who won two races in the Series last year and will also be a leading contender.
Team Pyro, the reigning champion squad from the Renault UK Clio Cup, fields three cars in the 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series with rapid 16-year-old Ollie Pidgley (Salisbury) set to be a very strong front-runner after securing a podium in only his second ever car race in the category.
Joining Pidgley is trackday enthusiast Andy Wilkins (Harpenden), who will embark on his first full season of racing, and experienced Clio Cup driver David Dickenson (Wicklow, Ireland). With several years of Clio competition under his belt, including a campaign last year in the Eurocup Clio Series, he returns to the third generation racing Clio.
Another of the top teams from the Renault UK Clio Cup, SV Racing, continues in the Race Series this year with Sam Randon (Ashbourne) and Norway’s Tommy Ostgaard – who both graduate from the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series – aiming to make strong progress.
Bringing more overseas flavour to the championship is Malta’s Jacques Mizzi, who makes the switch from the Renault UK Clio Cup to the most cost-effective Race Series with Westbourne Motorsport, while 20Ten Racing fields podium finisher Brett Lidsey (Dartford) – the former privateer making an eleventh hour decision to join an established team.
Pete Bennett (Blundeston), who made a huge impression during a remarkable motor racing debut at Brands Hatch last September where he claimed a podium in his first ever race, embarks on his first full season of competition with Finesse Motorsport. Completing the entry is quick and committed Series newcomer Paul Streather (Hinckley), the 2010 MG Trophy Champion.
Eclectic quintet ready for Road Series battle
In the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series category, the entry features an eclectic mix of competitors with privateer runner Jake Honour (Melksham) making a very welcome return in his self-converted Clio Renaultsport 197. Improving markedly in 2013, his first season of racing at any level, Honour – who is assisted by Jade Developments – will be aiming to add to the wins he secured in the Autumn Cup.
Former single-seater racer Anton Spires (Milton Keynes) makes a return to his saloon car roots with Westbourne Motorsport and will certainly be a major challenger for honours. Successful rally driver Luke Pinder (Shipley) meanwhile, the 2007 BRC Silverstone Tyres Stars 1400 Rally Champion and 2009 Swift Cup Winner, will make his circuit racing bow with a family-run car.
Another competitor from an alternative racing discipline, ex-Motocross rider Nic Harrison (Stretton, Burton-on-Trent), makes his series debut under the CGHimports.com banner while lady racer Sarah Franklin (Kettering), the 2012 Production Touring Car Trophy winner, will fly the flag for the British Women Racing Drivers’ Club on her debut in the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series.
Qualifying for the opening two rounds of the season will take place at 10.55 on Saturday, 5th April, at Rockingham with both races following on Sunday, 6th April, at 10.50 and 15.10 respectively.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo and Safety Devices.