Global tyre giant Michelin has today, Thursday, 15th August, agreed a new three-year deal with Grovewood Sport and the British Automobile Racing Club to remain the headline sponsor of the Michelin Clio Cup Series until at least the end of 2016.
As interest soars for the club-level category, which was introduced onto the British racing scene earlier this year, promoter Grovewood Sport isn’t resting on its laurels and is raising the bar by turning the series into a fully-fledged championship for next season with a planned 12 round calendar.
Moves are also being made to prepare the Clio Cup Series for a class split with the creation of the newly titled Michelin Clio Cup Race Series, for third generation racing Clios, and the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series, for race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197 and Clio Renaultsport 200 roadcars.
“We’re thrilled to have agreed a new three year deal with Grovewood Sport and the BARC to remain title sponsor of the Michelin Clio Cup Series”, said Michelin UK Commercial Director Malcolm Scovell, “In just a few short months, the series has firmly established itself as a popular, competitive and very well supported and organised category.
“Expanding to become a full championship next year is a fantastic move and one we at Michelin wholeheartedly support. We’re confident the grid numbers will swell next year and we’ll see more and more drivers and teams recognising the championship as a key rung on the saloon car ladder.”
With the arrival of the brand new 1.6-litre turbo-charged fourth generation racing Clio in the sister Renault UK Clio Cup from next year, an influx of the third generation cars are expected to find a new home in the Michelin Clio Cup Series.
As such, Renault UK Clio Cup teams Scuderia Vittoria and 20Ten Racing – which already field drivers in the Clio Cup Series – have confirmed their continued support of the burgeoning category. Fellow squads from the national championship, such as JHR Developments, Finesse Motorsport and 2012 Renault UK Clio Cup champions Team Pyro, are also planning to enter cars in the club-level series.
“With how popular the current Clio has been on the TOCA package over the years, and how good that car is, the Clio Series will outperform any other club championship out there in my opinion”, said JHR team principal Steven Hunter, “We’ve already got two drivers who want to do it with us and we’re looking at running four cars in the Series next year.
“We’ve spoken to as many as eight drivers already with serious interest, there are so many people out there in other club categories who have wanted to race in Clios and now they’re going to be able to afford to do it in a full championship. The interest out there is astronomical, I genuinely can’t think of any other category at the same level which will be able to compete.”
While keen to attract more professional teams the stature of those mentioned, organisers of the Michelin Clio Cup Series are also committed to expanding the hugely cost-effective ‘roadcar’ class which is aimed at car racing rookies and trackday enthusiasts.
Renault UK recently embarked on a highly successful publicity campaign for the ‘roadcar’ aspect of the category and it has triggered a massive surge in interest. Giving key motorsport and automotive publications an opportunity to test a Monster Sport Europe converted Clio Renaultsport 197, all heaped praise on the car and the category.
British Touring Car Championship race winner Andrew Jordan, a graduate of the Renault UK Clio Cup, tested the MSE car for Motorsport News and was joined by journalists from Autosport (Glenn Freeman), Auto Express (Owen Mildenhall), EVO (Henry Catchpole), Autocar (Matt Prior), Car (Ben Barry) and Track Driver (Mark Hales).
Competitors currently racing in the Michelin Clio Cup Series are also giving a big thumbs-up to the planned direction for 2014, with multiple race winner Luke Herbert very supportive of the move to become a full championship. He is also looking to potentially expand his family-run team
“The plan of us doing Clio Series this year was to learn the front-wheel drive and then graduate into the main Renault UK Clio Cup next year”, explained Herbert, “If we’re not able to raise the budget for that, we definitely want to stay in the Clio Series and go for the championship. We’re also looking at buying another car to expand the team.
“Becoming a championship gives it more appeal and with so many cars coming out of the TOCA series at the end of the year, I reckon we’ll easily see 20 to 25 cars on the Clio Series grid. There are plenty of club racers out there who will want to do it, it’s better than anything else out there at this level – a great series and a great car.”
As well as the changes to the structure of the category for 2014, the inaugural champion of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series next year will win a free registration into the flagship Renault UK Clio Cup for the following season. In the Road Series, Michelin will supply two Pilot Sport 3 tyres, worth £200, to the competitor setting the fastest class lap in each race.
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.