Total Control Racing’s Mike Robinson (Surbiton) underlined his quality on his return to Renault Clio action during officially timed Michelin Clio Cup Race Series pre-season testing at Rockingham today, Wednesday, 19th March, after topping the timesheets in two of the three sessions.
Having been away from the Renault ranks for three years, the 31-year-old took no time at all to prove his pace in his 2.0-litre third generation Clio. After finishing second quickest in the morning’s opening run, Robinson led the way in session two and then became the only driver to dip below the 90 second bracket with a best lap of 1m29.922 seconds (77.66mph) during the final outing.
“It’s nice to come back and be quicker than I was three years ago”, said the TCR racer, “We started off the day with some pretty worn tyres actually, the aim was to use the newer rubber towards the end of the day. We knew we had a bit more pace to come in the third session and just needed to piece it all together, thankfully I got a clear lap almost immediately.
“The Clio is a fun car to drive, you can really throw it around and TCR always put together such a great car with a good balance of understeer and oversteer. I’ve obviously got more experience than I had when I last raced Clios a few years back, hopefully that will show during the season.”
Irishman David Dickenson (Wicklow), returning to racing a 2.0-litre normally aspirated Renault Clio this year having competed in the fourth generation car in Europe last year with Pyro, was second quickest overall thanks to his best from session one – a time of 1m30.186 seconds (77.43mph).
Making it three different teams in the lead trio, the SV Racing car of Norway’s Tommy Ostgaard produced the third fastest lap in the opening session while the fourth best time of the day belonged to multiple Clio Cup Series race winner Luke Herbert (Chichester) in his SRC Recycling Ltd machine.
Fellow category race winner Andy Jordan (Bridgnorth), who made it a TCR one-two with pace-setter Robinson in the day’s final session, was fifth on combined times ahead of privateer Paul Streather (Hinckley) on his first ‘official’ appearance as a Michelin Clio Cup Race Series driver.
Relative pace and performance in the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series was tricky to judge with several of the competitors not utilising a timing transponder. Of those who did feature on the timesheets, Westbourne Motorsport’s former single-seater racer Anton Spires (Milton Keynes) led the way from fellow championship newcomer Sarah Franklin (Kettering).
Rockingham will host the opening two rounds of the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Road Series over the weekend 5th/6th April.
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Ferodo and Safety Devices.