Michelin Clio Cup Race Series championship leader Mike Robinson (Surbiton) secured his second win of the weekend at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit this afternoon, Sunday, 27th July, to further increase his points cushion over chief title rival David Dickenson (Wicklow, Ireland).
Beginning round eight of the campaign on pole position, Robinson made a clean getaway to lead fellow front-row starter Dickenson into the first corner and the Total Control Racing driver was never headed – although he did spend the vast majority of the encounter under significant pressure.
The battle at the front was incredibly tight throughout, any one of the lead six drivers in with a chance of finishing on the podium, but in the end Robinson took the chequered flag 1.1 seconds clear of Team Pyro duo Dickenson and Brett Smith (Wellingborough). Robinson’s fifth victory of the season means he heads into the penultimate event of the season next month with a 36-point lead.
“I’m really pleased to come away with two wins, thankfully we got two nice starts – which were key to be honest – and didn’t have to defend too much”, said a delighted Robinson, “David [Dickenson] really pressured me during the first part of the race but my car was set to come on a bit later, it started to feel better and better. TCR have done such a great job with the car, it’s been fantastic.”
During the early running behind the lead trio, who remained in the same order for the full 21 lap duration, privateer runner Paul Streather (Hinckley) held fourth ahead of Westbourne Motorsport’s Luke Herbert (Chichester) and Finesse Motorsport’s Pete Bennett (Blundeston).
On lap three, Smith, Streather and Herbert were nose-to-tail into Paddock Hill Bend and Herbert seized his chance by diving past Streather for fourth position. As those three battled, Bennett was able to begin closing in and within a few laps he was on the tail of the lead group.
Following separate excursions for Tom Butler (Allestree, Derby) and Sam Randon (Ashbourne) at Clearways on lap six, the Safety Car was deployed with the order behind the top six seeing TCR’s Andy Jordan (Bridgnorth) in seventh, 20Ten Racing’s Brett Lidsey (Dartford) eighth and Pyro’s Ollie Pidgley (Downton) ninth ahead of SV Racing’s newcomer Adam Hatfield (Cranworth).
After the re-start on lap 12 nothing changed among the leaders but, further behind, the action involving Pidgley and Lidsey began to heat up. The Pyro youngster took eighth position off Lidsey at Paddock Hill Bend on lap 16 although the 20Ten driver immediately hit back. Then, out of Graham Hill Bend as the duo ran side-by-side, contact between the pair pitched Pidgley’s car into a spin.
Back at the front, the order remained static – if very close – with the podium finishers followed over the line by Herbert in fourth, Streather fifth, Sport Class winner Bennett in sixth and Lidsey seventh ahead of rookie Hatfield. Post-race, though, Bennett – who set the fastest lap – was dropped to 10th overall after receiving a 10 second penalty for a false start.
“Second isn’t too bad”, said Dickenson, “It’s so hard to pass here but we got third yesterday and second today, after a bit of a disaster at Donington it’s nice to get back on the podium. I tried to push Mike [Robinson] into a mistake a couple of times but it didn’t happen.”
Dominant maiden victory for Pinder in Road Series Rd8
Privateer driver Luke Pinder (Shipley) took a richly deserved maiden Michelin Clio Cup Road Series victory during round eight of the category’s season, having qualified on the front-row for the second race of the Brands Hatch weekend alongside championship leader Anton Spires (Milton Keynes).
As during round seven on Saturday, Pinder made the best launch from the line to lead into Paddock Hill Bend but unlike the first race of the weekend he was able to dominate and was never challenged on his way to a remarkable nine second win.
“It’s all about the starts here, I think our rallying background helps the starts – we’ve always been very good getting off the line and the same when I raced Autograss”, said Pinder, “We’ve had a few mechanical issues this year so to win today is great, especially as we run the car ourselves, just me and my dad. We turn up on the weekend, set the car up ourselves and see what we can do!”
Leading by almost two seconds by the end of lap one, as a fast-starting Nic Harrison (Stretton) diced over second place with Spires, Pinder never looked back. Harrison, meanwhile, had made a terrific getaway of his own to grab second from Spires around the outside at Paddock Hill Bend and the CGHimports.com driver went on to deliver his best performance of the season.
On lap eight, Harrison got slightly out of shape at Graham Hill Bend which enabled Spires to get the drive into Surtees where he grabbed the place. Harrison hit back, though, with a fantastic pass into McLaren – Spires then encountering an issue with his steering column as he went over the kerbs.
Moving back into second as the race entered its final third, Spires ultimately slipped back behind Harrison after losing fourth gear. Although his run of five wins came to an end, fastest lap and third place – maintaining his 100 percent podium record – mean Spires ended the event 87 points clear.
Just as closely contested was the fight for fourth between Jessica Hawkins (Chatham) and John Creasey (Lincoln). Hawkins got ahead of the Paint Perfect Motorsport driver straight away and piloted a very wide SWB Motorsport Clio to keep Creasey behind – just 0.2 seconds splitting them at the finish. Sixth for Sarah Franklin (Kettering) was enough for her to retain second in the points.
Next on the schedule for the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Road Series competitors will be a visit to Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk over the weekend 30th/31st August. On the Saturday of the event, the championships will be broadcast on live television for the first time with coverage on cable and digital satellite channel Motors TV.
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 Rd8):
1st Mike Robinson, 218pts; 2nd David Dickenson, 182pts; 3rd Paul Streather, 167pts
Provisional 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Driver Standings (after Rd8):
1st Anton Spires, 255pts; 2nd Sarah Franklin, 168pts; 3rd Nic Harrison, 167pts