Analysis: Plenty of twists and ‘what ifs’ in Donington Park’s Renault UK Clio Cup rounds

A closer examination of Donington Park’s Renault UK Clio Cup rounds reveals two races full of differing fortunes and ‘what ifs’…
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Firstly to qualifying and a maiden pole position in only their second UK Clio Cup event for the Ciceley Motorsport team and Max Coates. Come the races, two fourth place finishes also marked personal bests for both team and drivers.

Ultimately the race wins were taken by Ant Whorton-Eales and Paul Rivett. AWE’s success in race one gave the JamSport squad its first victory in the championship. And, for a while, it appeared it had a second in the bag as well when Whorton-Eales also crossed the line first in race two (in which he had started from pole – the first time a JamSport car had lined up at the very front of the grid).

A technical infringement, however, meant the win was removed and instead it was maestro Rivett who was handed the victory – his 100th podium result in the UK Clio Cup. Notably his first podium result had also come with a victory – in, of all races, his debut back in 2001. Some things are meant to be…

The result also helped Rivett take back the lead in the drivers’ championship, but while he was celebrating a century of podiums his young team-mate Charles Ladell was equally ecstatic with his first, in second place. It all meant of course a first 1-2 result for WDE.

Indeed the scenes could not have been any different to those four hours earlier when the whole WDE team were in the depths of despair as Ladell and team-mate Rory Green catastrophically crashed out together – opening the door for Team Cooksport to move past WDE at the head of the Entrants’ table, thanks to a second place for Lee Pattison and a strong sixth for George Jackson.

In another reversal of fortunes, however, it would be Cooksport’s turn to suffer frustration in race two. Pattison – in a clash with Ladell – was sent spinning to near the tail of the field and Jackson, who had also run among the leaders, instead wound up 13th thanks to a drive-through pit lane penalty for a false start. WDE was only too happy to regain the Entrants’ championship lead…

Notably it was Coates and then Finesse Motorsport’s Paul Streather who set the fastest laps in the two races – the first time either has done so. Just as at Brands Hatch, Coates also picked up two more maximum scores in the Graduates Cup to make it wins in the class in all four opening rounds – not even Ashley Sutton achieved that on his way to the crown last year.

Elsewhere there were a number of other personal bests achieved in qualifying at Donington with: David Dickenson (a career equal-best ninth); Ollie Pidgley (tenth); Senna Proctor (12th); Vanquish Motorsport and Paul Plant (14th); Darren Johnson (who established a best of 23rd).

In the races, too, PBs went the way of: Ecomotive and Daniel Rowbottom (sixth); Proctor (seventh); Pidgley (tenth); Vanquish and Paul Plant (equalled their best of tenth from Brands Hatch); Darren Johnson (established a best of 14th).

The men on the move at Donington, in terms of positions gained in the two races, were Cooksport’s Rory Collingbourne (19th to 11th and then 20th to ninth for 19 places in total) and Team Pyro’s Josh Price (17th to eighth – nine places – in race two).

Finally well done to 20Ten Racing’s Craig Milner who achieved a maiden win in the Masters Cup class in his first event back since 2014 – much to the frustration of JamSport’s Graham Field who, after Pattison’s demise, had been on course for the victory until being ordered to serve a pit lane ‘black flag’ penalty.