Significantly the category marks the first time a major motor manufacturer has gone down the junior saloon car route in motor sport.
The cars are in effect the same as those in the senior UK Clio Cup which features live on ITV4 alongside the British Touring Car Championship. The only differences are a 100mph speed limit, five gears instead of six (albeit still operated by the same superbly engineered Sadev paddleshift system) and Michelin’s high performance Pilot Sport 3 road tyre instead of racing ‘slicks’.
The eventual Champion will win a free registration into the senior Clio Cup – a prize worth £18,000! – so all the more reason to get off to a flying start in Snetterton’s opening two rounds.
The big unknown is who will come out on top…
Ethan Hammerton (Northallerton), currently fighting for the BARC’s Junior Saloon Car series, has to be among the favourites. He is joined in the JamSport line-up by recent Fiesta Junior front-runner Gus Burton (Colchester) and Louis Doyle (Chorley), a winner in north western karting circles.
Team Pyro, the outfit to beat in the senior UK Clio Cup for much of the past decade, has signed another top karter in British championship ace Lorcan Hanafin (Guiseley) plus Max Marzorati (Harrow) in his striking-looking Renault Retail Group-liveried machine.
British and Northern Irish karting champion Jack Young (Belfast) is surely one to watch in his MRM-prepared car while, with almost two seasons of Ginetta Junior experience under his belt, Connor Grady (Smallfield) joins WDE Motorsport, Pyro’s arch enemy in the seniors.
It’s worth noting that former senior UK Clio Cup champions Ashley Sutton, Ant Whorton-Eales (now both stars of the BTCC), Phil Glew, Paul Rivett and Jim Edwards Jnr are among those to have tested the Clio Cup Junior car and all agree the category has what it takes to drastically modernise junior car racing.
After Snetterton the championship will move on to Brands Hatch in Kent (23-24 Sept), Pembrey in Carmarthenshire (14-15 Oct) and Brands Hatch again (18-19 Nov). Each event will include two rounds (eight rounds in all) with a driver’s best six results to count towards his or her final points total.
UK motor sport is certainly watching with interest…
Renault Sport’s UK Motorsport Championship Manager Will Fewkes commented: “We are hugely excited about the prospects for Clio Cup Junior and to seeing it get under way at Snetterton this weekend. Before the championship has even got going we’ve received non-stop praise about the cars’ performance and what the championship potentially offers in terms of driver development.
“There is still plenty of time for drivers to join the grid with the racing carrying on into October and November and we would be very interested in hearing from those looking to compete in what are now the fastest and most technically advanced junior racing cars currently in UK motor sport.”
And said Jeremy Townsend, Renault UK’s Communications Director: “Renault has been UK motor sport’s most loyal supporter for more than four decades and we are delighted to continue that reputation with Clio Cup Junior.
“The effort behind the scenes to make this happen should not be underestimated and one could even consider this something of a ‘pilot’ with Renault Sport in Paris taking a keen interest with a view to rolling out the category in other regions.
“Meanwhile we look forward to Clio Cup Junior beginning in the UK and seeing who goes on to win the terrific Champion’s prize we’re able to offer.”