After almost five hours of racing, covering nearly 400 miles, the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup season realistically boils down to a two-way fight at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit next weekend, 12th/13th October, between points leader Josh Files (Norwich) and former champion Paul Rivett (Banstead).
As well as the honour and prestige of winning the title, the two main contenders are also battling it out for a coveted prize test drive in an NGTC specification car from the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship and the use of a road-going Clio Renaultsport 200 Turbo EDC for one year.
Files, who will arrive at the Kent track on a roll of six straight podiums, including two victories, has a substantial 50 point lead on total scores over highly experienced three-time Renault UK Clio Cup title winner Rivett. Most importantly, though, when the category’s single ‘drop score’ ruling is taken into account, the Team Pyro driver’s advantage is still a more than healthy 38 points.
The previous visit to Brands Hatch for the opening two rounds, which took place on the shorter Indy Circuit layout, wasn’t the most successful for Files but his performances during the second half of the campaign leave little doubt he will be a contender for more wins and podiums in the finale, as he seeks his first national-level motor racing title.
“We’ve worked it out points-wise and I think all I need is a sixth place in race one, if Paul [Rivett] was to win and get fastest lap”, said Files, “If you’d told me at the start of the year I’d have two wins and 10 podiums, as well as lots of fastest laps and Graduate wins, after 14 rounds I’d have said I doubt it, but I’ll try!
“We’ve shown true pace and consistency this year, it’s been a really mature season. I won’t be letting off any slack at Brands, I don’t want to win the title by finishing eighth or something – I still want to win races and I’ll be going out to try and do that.”
Names.co.uk / Stancombe Vehicle Engineering’s Rivett really needs a non-finish from Files to stand any chance of claiming an unprecedented fourth main season title, but the veteran has seen it all and done it all in Clio racing and knows anything could happen next weekend.
“It’s a tall order”, he commented, “Josh [Files] has got to have a bad weekend, not just a bad race, for us to stand a chance really but anything at all could happen and one thing’s for sure, I won’t give up and I’ll fight to the end.
“I want to end the season on a high, and I’ve always been very strong at Brands GP, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in. Even if Josh manages to win the title in the first race, I’ll be going all out to try and win the second race. We’re due some good luck, hopefully we’ll get some!”
In theory, Alex Morgan (Reading) can still mathematically win the championship in his first season of front-wheel drive saloon car racing. For that to happen, though, the ex-Formula Renault competitor would require a double race victory and horrendous misfortune for Files.
In short, Morgan would need his Pyro team-mate to be excluded from both encounters, meaning Files wouldn’t be able to count either as his ‘drop score’, but the Welsh driver’s chances also hinge, of course, on Rivett’s results. It seems beyond plausible, but in terms of the permutations a Morgan title win remains a reality until at least next weekend’s first race has played out.
Fittingly in the final season of Renault UK Clio Cup action featuring the hugely successful third generation 2.0-litre racing Clio, the 2013 championship has delivered some classic action with seven different race winners and no fewer than 10 drivers having visited the outright podium.
KX Racing with Scuderia Vittoria’s Ant Whorton-Eales (Lichfield) was the newest addition to the winner’s circle during last month’s visit to Rockingham, capping off an outstanding weekend with his maiden Clio Cup victory in round 14.
His team-mate Stefan Hodgetts (Redditch), a four-time winner this year, goes into the final event fifth in the standings behind Westbourne Motorsport’s James Colburn (Worthing) who won the opening round on Brands Hatch’s Indy Circuit. Both can still end the year as Vice-Champion.
In the two class battles, Files leads Colburn by 57 points on drop scores in the Graduate Cup while Handy Motorsport with Pyro’s reigning Masters Cup Champion Simon Belcher (Swindon) has the benefit of a 16-point cushion over JHR Developments’ Lee Pattison (Liversedge).
Officially timed pre-event testing will take place this coming Friday, 11th October, ahead of qualifying at 10.50 on Saturday, 12th October, with round 15 set to start at 16.30. On Sunday, 13th October, the final round of the 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup will begin at 13.30 and will be screened live on ITV4, ITV4 HD and streamed online at www.itv.com/btcc
Renault UK Clio Cup is sponsored by www.buyoils.co.uk with support from ELF, NGK Spark Plugs, WP Racing and official tyre supplier Dunlop.
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Driver Standings (after Rd14 inc. drop score):
1st Josh Files, 344pts; 2nd Paul Rivett, 304pts; 3rd Alex Morgan, 280pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup WP Racing Clio Cup Team Trophy Standings (after Rd14):
1st Team Pyro, 650pts; 2nd Scuderia Vittoria, 549pts; 3rd JHR Developments, 447pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Graduate Cup’ Standings (after Rd14 inc. drop score):
1st Josh Files, 379pts; 2nd James Colburn, 320pts; 3rd Josh Cook, 295pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup ‘Masters Cup’ Standings (after Rd14 inc. drop score):
1st Simon Belcher, 329pts; 2nd Lee Pattison, 313pts; 3rd Graham Field, 303pts