Six of the UK’s premier race circuits will feature on the 2014 calendar for the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Michelin Clio Cup Road Series it is confirmed today, Thursday, 31st October, with a 12 race season having been ratified for the category’s first year as a fully-fledged championship.
Following a highly successful debut in 2013, where the series established itself as the perfect first rung on the ladder of professionally run one-make saloon car competition, the British Automobile Racing Club-led championship is preparing for a bumper season next year.
With an influx of third generation thoroughbred racing Clios set to arrive in the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series from the sister Renault UK Clio Cup, where the brand new Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC will take over in 2014, hopes are also high for a boosted number of competitors in the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series which features race-converted Clio Renaultsport 197 roadcars.
Getting underway at Northamptonshire’s Rockingham International Super Sportscar Circuit over the weekend 5th/6th April, the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series and Road Series will then travel to Oulton Park Island Circuit in Cheshire for a one day event on Saturday, 17th May.
Leicestershire’s Donington Park National Circuit will host rounds five and six on 31st May/1st June with the second half of the campaign then commencing at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent on 26th/27th July. Norfolk’s Snetterton will be the venue for the penultimate two rounds on 30th/31st August with the finale scheduled to take place at Croft in North Yorkshire on 20th/21st September.
The format of the weekends will see a single 20-minute qualifying session determine the starting order for both races at any given event, each driver’s fastest time setting the grid for the opening encounter with second best times forming the grid for race two. Each venue will feature two races and all drivers will be required to ‘drop’ their single lowest score from final points totals.
At most events, there will be a pair of 25-minute races with one encounter on the Saturday and one on the Sunday – the exception being Oulton Park where qualifying and both races will take place on one day. Additionally, the Snetterton date at the end of August will feature a 45-minute ‘enduro’ as its second race and organisers are considering running enduro contests at two of the other venues.
“I am very grateful to Ian Watson at BARC for coming up with a cracking calendar for the Michelin Clio Cup Series, featuring circuits which are all found on the BTCC calendar and, therefore, giving drivers the perfect platform to build towards the Renault UK Clio Cup in 2015”, said championship promoter Simon North.
“Interest has been soaring in recent weeks and the teams are telling me they have had strong interest from prospective drivers ever since the championship status was announced in August. The Race Series is looking very strong already and we are working hard on promotion of the Road Series with the aim of reaching enough registrations to allow for separate races for the two classes.”
Budgets to run with an established team in the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series range from £40,000 to £45,000 while in the Michelin Clio Cup Road Series, team budgets are sub-£30,000. Owner-drivers can build a car, using the official conversion kit, for £12,000 but anyone already owning a road-going Clio Renaultsport 197 donor car can do so for several thousand pounds less.
Commenting on the 2014 calendar, 20Ten Racing team principal Simon Hunt said: “I really do like the sound of the calendar, going to circuits like Oulton Park and Croft will be good – they’re places we always enjoy racing at so that’s all positive. We’re getting some good interest for next year.
“It should be a very strong championship, it’s ideal for people who have £20,000 to £30,000 to spend on racing with a very good car. I like the sound of the 45 minute races, it’ll be interesting to see how the first one goes at Rockingham in the Autumn Cup in a couple of weeks.”
Race-winning Renault UK Clio Cup squad JHR Developments is all set to expand its operations into the Michelin Clio Cup Race Series next season and team owner Steven Hunter is also very positive about the confirmed calendar:
“It’s a good choice of circuits”, he said, “They’re all relevant to the TOCA [Renault UK Clio Cup] championship so it means the Clio Series will be a proper stepping stone to the BTCC package for drivers looking at going down that route.
“We’re hoping to run two or three cars in the Clio Series next year and my genuine opinion is it’ll be exceptionally popular. The price is good, it’s a fantastic car and it’ll be head and shoulders above anything else in club-level motorsport.”
Simon Baldry, team owner of top Michelin Clio Cup Road Series squad SWB Motorsport, added: “It’ll be good to go to Oulton, Snetterton, Croft, Donington – the whole calendar looks great. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all goes with the 45 minute race in the Autumn Cup, it’s something different to sell to young drivers coming in. So far, interest across the board is better than last 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.
2014 Michelin Clio Cup Race Series/Michelin Clio Cup Road Series Calendar
5/6 April - Rockingham ISSC, Northamptonshire
17 May - Oulton Park Island Circuit, Cheshire
31 May/1 June - Donington Park National Circuit, Leicestershire
26/27 July - Brands Hatch Indy Circuit, Kent
30/31 August - Snetterton (300 Circuit TBC), Norfolk
20/21 September - Croft Circuit, North Yorkshire