All were present at the Blyton Park track in Lincolnshire for a special ‘sampler day’ which enabled them to get a first taste of the UK Clio Cup machine. The reaction from the youngsters – some from other junior car racing series; others from karting – and teams was a unanimous thumbs-up.
The car is identical to that used in the Renault UK Clio Cup which appears at the British Touring Car Championship’s high-profile events, save for a simple modification to its ECU – thereby limiting it to five gears and a top speed of 100mph – and the fact it runs on road tyres, Michelin’s high-performance Pilot Sport 3. These modifications ensure the car adheres strictly to junior car racing regulations.
Among those providing tuition at Blyton were past UK Clio Cup champions Ashley Sutton, Paul Rivett and Phil Glew plus former championship runner-up Ed Pead and 2016 front-runner Luke Kidsley.
Notably on its first visit to Blyton and in mixed weather conditions the UK Clio Cup Junior car managed a best lap time in the one minute and 11 seconds bracket.
What they had to say
Harry Gooding (aged 14), 2016 Ford Fiesta Junior Champion with JamSport: “JamSport always prepare an amazing car but this is really good to drive and does everything you want it to do – it is a proper race car and you cannot fault anything. The Michelin tyres are really good, too, considering they are road-spec – they did not drop off in performance during the day and they give a lot of grip.”
Zak Fulk (15), a recent front-runner in European karting: “It’s such a controllable car and really gives you lots of confidence – I found I could place it anywhere I wanted. There’s a different technique required, of course, but any competent karter could adapt to this car very quickly. I think the UK Clio Cup Junior concept is brilliant – it gives people the best start to their car racing careers and a real advantage over those not doing it, particularly when they go into the senior classes.”
Luke Browning (14), a race winner in Junior Saloon Cars: “I had a fantastic day testing the UK Clio Cup Junior car and see this as a great opportunity for any young driver wanting to take their racing to the next level.”
WDE Motorsport Team Principal Wayne Eason: “It was a genuinely fabulous day with some of the best junior driving talent I have seen for a very long time. Every driver we ran absolutely fell in love with the car.”
Westbourne Motorsport Team Principal Richard Colburn: “I was very impressed with the drivers we put in our car. Some had more experience than others but all took to it really well – it is clearly very well suited to the young driver. Another important point they made as well was that it is a proper racing car; not just some road car with a few racing components bolted on.”
Jamie Going, Team Principal of 2016 UK Clio Cup title-winning squad JamSport Racing: “It was nice to see how much interest there was in the number of junior drivers who wanted to try the car and the day was also well run at a really good facility and this gave us plenty of time to test our six drivers. We were very impressed with how they all got to grips with the car so quickly and Luke (Kidsley) and I were also impressed with their performance inside the car. We can’t wait for this championship to start.”
Mark Hunt, Team Principal of multiple title-winning UK Clio Cup squad Team Pyro which will run in partnership with 20Ten Racing: “This was a very, very good day. The drivers we trialled had varying levels of experience but each took to the car really well – it is a very forgiving car for a youngster to drive and learn in. They all found the car to be even better than expected and seeing their big grins afterwards was very enjoyable from a team perspective.”
Will Fewkes, Renault Sport UK Motorsport Championship Manager: “This has been a great start to getting cars, teams and drivers together in one place and running on track – really busy and the enthusiasm for this championship and the UK Clio Cup Junior car is very clear and there is now some very interesting dialogue to be had between parties!
“Like the teams, we were very impressed by the quality of junior driver being attracted to the UK Clio Cup Junior car and both the manner in which they went about driving it and listening to their very distinguished instructors. All the young drivers we welcomed to Blyton can be very proud with how they progressed throughout the day and we would very much welcome them all onto our grid in 2017.”