Michelin Clio Cup Race Series team Scuderia Vittoria celebrated two wins from two during the ‘Autumn Cup’ event at Rockingham today, Saturday, 16th November – Devon Modell (Maidstone) secured his maiden Clio Cup victory in race one and category newcomer Jamie Clarke (Liverpool) won the first ever Renault Clio ‘enduro’ contested on British soil.
Modell, who has been racing in the flagship Renault UK Clio Cup with the Surrey outfit this year, dominated the opening 20-minute encounter having earlier taken pole position by a substantial 0.6 second margin. Winning by over seven seconds, a planned repeat in the afternoon’s 45-minute enduro unfortunately went awry after a broken clutch led to retirement late in the race.
Clarke, embarking on his first weekend in front-wheel drive Clios, was therefore able to come through a dramatic encounter to take a surprise victory. Battling through impressively from eighth on the grid, the Scotsman moved into the lead three laps from the finish when team-mate Tommy Ostgaard – who had inherited first place from Modell – hit a patch of oil at Deene.
The Norwegian, a six-time race winner in the Road Series class during the main summer season, did manage to recover, though, to add the runner-up spot to an earlier third place from race one on his debut weekend in the headline Race Series.
Westbourne Motorsport’s Charles Ladell (Beyton), another driver making his bow in the Michelin Clio Cup Series this weekend, delivered a very impressive account of himself with second position on his debut. In race two, category regular Brett Lidsey (Dartford) made it onto the podium for the second time this year with third place ahead of Ladell.
The action was no less entertaining in the Road Series division where Jake Honour (Melksham) was able to bring his year’s racing to a fantastically successful conclusion, taking his first class wins at the wheel of his privately entered Clio Renaultsport 197 run with assistance from Jade Developments.
In the opening encounter, Monster Sport Europe’s Lee Linford (Brackley) – making his first outing in a racing car for the best part of a decade – was on course for the Road Series victory until a gearbox problem meant he slipped to third in class on the final lap, enabling Honour to sweep past.
Honour then encountered his own dose of gearbox misfortune in the ‘enduro’ but was still able to coax his car home to the win. Having leaked oil three laps from the finish, the fluid which caught-out Ostgaard and several others, Honour was able to continue to the end without any further drama.
Modell shows the way in opening Autumn Cup encounter
Such was Modell’s dominance in qualifying, his victory in race one came as no surprise and he was never put under any realistic pressure after the first couple of corners. Running three abreast with Ostgaard and former single-seater racer Alex Walker (Oldham) through Turn One, Modell saw off his rivals at Deene and opened up a two second lead on lap one alone.
Punching in fastest lap after fastest lap, the Scuderia Vittoria racer cruised to a 7.6 second winning margin and also set a new lap record for the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series in the process – a time of 1m30.539 seconds (77.13mph).
“I nearly lost the lead into the first corner but I got my head down, didn’t look behind, and after a couple of laps I saw there was a big gap and relaxed from there”, said Modell, “It was hard to start with, the car was a bit lively with it being cold, but once you get over that it was a nice, easy race.”
In the battle behind the eventual winner, Walker moved into second on lap one at Deene ahead of Ostgaard and the latter then came under attack from Ladell who produced a great move for third around the outside at Tarzan.
The Clio rookie then started to pressurise Walker and the Westbourne driver grabbed second at Deene with a great pass. With Modell long gone, Ladell focused on pulling clear of the rest and he managed just that as Walker became embroiled in a scrap with team-mate Ostgaard who, on lap nine, moved up into third place with a terrific pass around the outside at the first hairpin.
Unfortunately for Walker, his race then unravelled after twice running straight on under braking at Deene. He eventually finished in seventh place behind 20Ten Racing’s Graham Field (Southwell) with Clarke and Lidsey moving up into fourth and fifth.
“We had good pace all weekend”, reflected second placed Ladell, “I got a bad start but to come back through to second was a good result for us. The Clio is a very different car to drive from what I’ve been used to, it’s much more responsive and quicker than anything I’ve driven before.”
Road Series rivals Linford and Honour enjoyed a fantastic battle with plenty of position swapping but when the former lost third gear on the last lap, his challenge was over. Honour, therefore, won by 1.2 seconds from Buckmore Park Surtees prize drive winner Jacob Stilp (Northampton).
Clarke stars on racing return in unpredictable Enduro
At the beginning of the 45-minute enduro, front-row starters Modell and Ostgaard once again ran side-by-side through Turn One but a quick getaway from Ladell enabled him to get in the mix and he duly took second place before Ostgaard hit back at Yentwood.
Over the first few laps, the lead train of Modell, Ostgaard, Ladell, Walker, Clarke and Lidsey ran in close company but from the fifth tour onward Modell started to pull away at the front. Then, on lap 13, contact between Ladell and Walker as they disputed third place resulted in a non-finish for the latter, although Ladell recovered to fight back through into fourth at the finish.
Clutch problems for Modell eight laps from the end forced him into retirement, elevating Ostgaard into the outright race lead, but when Honour’s Road Series car sprung an oil leak with just three laps to run Ostgaard was the first on the scene and lost control of his Clio on the deposited fluid.
Several others also had difficulties with the slippery surface but Clarke, up into second at the time, avoided the problems to slice past for the lead and an eventual 13 second victory. Ostgaard was able to recover to second ahead of Lidsey with Ladell fourth while, in the Road Series, Honour was able to keep going to claim his second win of the day ahead of car racing rookie Jessica Hawkins (Farnham).
Speaking on his outright win, Clarke said: “It’s several years since I’ve raced anything and this is the complete opposite to what I’ve done before – front-wheel drive, slick tyres and standings starts is all new. I just went out there and did a 45-minute qualifying session, so to win is fantastic.”
Ostgaard added: “I had good pace, maintained the gap, but towards the end of the race I thought I’d up my pace a little as I was being caught slightly. Coming into the first hairpin a few laps from the end, though, the car just went straight – I didn’t know why at first. Second place is good though, second and third on my first weekend in this car is really great.”
Reflecting on his oil leak, Road Series winner Honour said: “I thought my tyre had gone at first, the back went loose – obviously because of the oil – but I wasn’t sure if I’d had a blow-out. I was expecting to get black flagged, but didn’t, so I carried on and got another win which was great. It’s a big confidence boost for me ahead of next year.”
Along with headline sponsors Michelin and Protyre, the Clio Cup Series is additionally supported by Safety Devices, Mark Fish Motorsport and The Lubricant Consultancy.