Competitors from the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup face a new challenge this coming weekend, 7th/8th June, when the full Oulton Park International Circuit hosts rounds seven and eight of the action-packed season.
After achieving his fourth and fifth podiums of the year at Thruxton last time out, Josh Cook (Bath) arrives in Cheshire with a handsome 21 point lead at the top of the standings and the SV Racing with KX driver is certainly enjoying a rich vein of form.
Beginning the season on the podium at Brands Hatch with third place in round one, the 22-year-old secured a fantastic double victory at Donington Park in April before returning to the podium in each of the Thruxton encounters last month.
Of the top three drivers in the championship, Cook is the only one to have scored in every round with Mike Bushell (Tunbridge Wells) and 2013 Vice-Champion Alex Morgan (Reading) both having one non-finish as part of their respective tallies.
Bushell, who from this weekend forward will race under the VitalRacing with Team Pyro banner in deference to his key sponsor, secured his first ever Renault UK Clio Cup race victory last time out during round five and has two other podiums to his credit so far in 2014.
Morgan, meanwhile, is eight points adrift of Bushell after a mixed weekend at Thruxton – forced out of the first race after contact from a rival, the SV Racing with KX driver hit back with fifth position in the second encounter to just hold on to his placing in the coveted top three by a single point. Having won both races at Brands Hatch in the season-opener, though, Morgan is always a major threat.
Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing), the fourth of this season’s race winners, travels to Cheshire high in confidence after his round six success and will be determined to keep the momentum rolling.
In the two class championships, Cook leads the way in the Graduate Cup by 22 points from Colburn with Pyro’s Lee Pattison (Scholes) 20 points ahead of WDE Motorsport’s Paul Rivett (Banstead) in the Masters Cup battle. In the Team Trophy standings, SV Racing with KX has a commanding 88 point advantage over Team Pyro.
BTCC winning Renault Laguna back in action at Oulton this weekend
With the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship package having raced on the shorter Oulton Park Island Circuit configuration in recent years, and before that the Fosters Circuit, the annual visit to Cheshire this time around will be the first to the International configuration since 1996.
Back then, Alain Menu and the late Will Hoy formed part of the Williams Renault Dealer Racing team which fielded a pair of Renault Lagunas in the BTCC – Swiss racer Menu claiming four wins and seven other podiums that year on his way to becoming Vice-Champion. The following season, he lifted the BTCC title with no fewer than 12 victories at the wheel of a Blend37 Williams Renault Laguna.
Fans of the golden ‘Super Touring’ era will have a real treat at Oulton Park this weekend with the HSCC Super Touring Car Championship forming part of the support package alongside the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup – notably in the 40th anniversary year of Renault UK motorsport.
Two ‘Blend37’ liveried Lagunas will be in action – Simon Garrad will pilot an example which was raced by Jean-Christophe Boullion in the BTCC in 1999, while Mark Jones is set to compete at the wheel of a Laguna chassis driven by Jason Plato on four occasions during the same season.
“Our involvement in the BTCC in the 1990s really was a golden era for Renault UK’s national motorsport programme, so it’s going to be fantastic to see two Renault Lagunas on the grid this weekend in the Super Touring races”, said Jeremy Townsend, Renault UK Communications Director.
“With the latest fourth generation Renault Clio in action at Oulton Park as well in the Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup, it’s going to be a real treat for the fans – and everyone involved in Renaultsport UK – to see two distinctive eras of Renault racing on the same bill, especially during our 40th anniversary year.”
Following pre-event practice on Friday, 6th June, Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup qualifying at Oulton Park will get underway at 11.35 on Saturday, 7th June, with round seven of the season set to begin at 16.35. On Sunday, 8th June, round eight will start at around 13.30 and will be broadcast live on ITV4 and ITV4 HD, with live online streaming at the www.itv.com/btcc website.
The Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup is additionally supported by ELF, Performance Friction, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup standings (after Rd6):
1st Josh Cook, 156pts; 2nd Mike Bushell, 135pts; 3rd Alex Morgan, 127pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ standings (after Rd6):
1st Josh Cook, 174pts; 2nd James Colburn, 152pts; 3rd Ant Whorton-Eales, 143pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ standings (after Rd6):
1st Lee Pattison, 176pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 156pts; =3rd Mark Howard & Craig Milner, 94pts
Provisional 2014 Courier Connections Renault UK Clio Cup Team standings (after Rd6):
1st SV Racing with KX, 323pts; 2nd Team Pyro, 235pts; 3rd Westbourne Motorsport, 214pts