Michelin Clio Cup Race Series points leader Mike Robinson (Surbiton) made the perfect start to the final event of the season at a wet Croft in North Yorkshire this afternoon, Saturday, 20th September, after taking a superb double pole position for rounds 11 and 12.
Having qualified on pole for each of the last four races, and then going on to convert each of those grid-topping starts into race victories, the Total Control Racing driver is in the ideal place to seal the inaugural title when the final two rounds of the campaign take place on Sunday.
Robinson’s terrific performance earlier today also took his qualifying tally for the year to nine pole position starts and with a lead of 52 points going into the first of tomorrow’s encounters, the former Renault UK Clio Cup racer is well on course to wrap-up his maiden car racing championship.
“I was really worried about the conditions today, I knew how quick the car was in the dry from testing but we didn’t know about the wet”, said Robinson, “I was pleased the weather went from neither wet nor dry to definitely wet, and we timed the session right with a pitstop in the middle.
“I didn’t think I’d be on pole actually so to get two clear laps at the end, I’m mega chuffed. I’ve been racing with David [Dickenson], Brett [Smith] and Luke [Herbert] all year and they’re all up there, so I know it’ll be clean and good racing. The first corner at Croft can be tricky, so I’m really pleased to be on the front row on pole.”
During the early going, Westbourne Motorsport’s Luke Herbert (Chichester) set the initial pace before Team Pyro’s Brett Smith (Wellingborough) moved to the top of the times as the track surface became fully wet rather than just greasy.
As the session neared its conclusion, though, title challenger David Dickenson (Wicklow) importantly moved onto pole position with under four minutes remaining. Robinson, however, wasn’t finished and after a mid-session visit to the pits he returned to the track with enough time for two final quick laps – the TCR driver taking the round 11 pole with a time of 1m38.510 seconds (77.65mph).
Dickenson will start the first of Sunday’s two races alongside the runaway Race Series leader on the front row, his best lap of qualifying 0.295 seconds shy of Robinson’s, with Smith securing third on the grid by 0.163 seconds from Herbert.
Sam Randon (Ashbourne) delivered his most impressive qualifying run of the season with the fifth fastest time for 20Ten Racing to shade team-mate Brett Lidsey (Dartford). Seventh quickest was TCR’s Andy Jordan (Bridgnorth) who, along with eighth fastest qualifier Paul Streather (Hinckley), had a lap time disallowed having been adjudged to have exceeded track limits.
Pyro’s Ollie Pidgley (Downton) was the fastest of the ‘Sport’ class drivers in ninth on his first visit to Croft, seeing off Finesse Motorsport’s Pete Bennett (Blundeston) by 0.133 seconds – the latter having no experience in the wet. Series debutant Charlie Fulk (Woking) was 11th quickest for Pyro.
In the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series, a superb effort by Jake Honour (Devizes) on his final lap of the session secured pole position for round 11, snatching the top spot away from fellow privateer Luke Pinder (Shipley) by almost 0.4 seconds. Nic Harrison (Stretton) took third on the Road Series grid ahead of John Creasey (Lincoln).
On second fastest times, Robinson was 0.4 seconds quicker than Smith in the headline Race Series with Herbert third quickest, Dickenson fourth, Lidsey fifth and Jordan sixth. Pidgley again had the better of Bennett and Fulk in the Sport class with Pinder taking the round 12 Road Series pole ahead of Honour by a full 0.5 seconds.
Road Series champion Anton Spires (Milton Keynes) is sitting out the season finale having secured the title in emphatic style last time out at Snetterton for Westbourne Motorsport.
Round 11 of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Road Series season will begin at 12.40 tomorrow, Sunday, 21st September, with the final race of the campaign, round 12, following at around 17.10.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo and Safety Devices.
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series Driver Standings (after Rd10 inc. drop score):
1st Mike Robinson, 282pts; 2nd David Dickenson, 230pts; 3rd Luke Herbert, 207pts
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Driver Standings (after Rd10 inc. drop score):
Champion: Anton Spires, 296pts; 2nd Nic Harrison, 215pts; 3rd Sarah Franklin, 197pts